The European Association for Potato Research (EAPR) Council has awarded two honorary memberships to celebrate people with outstanding achievements in potato research and significant contributions to the association. Two new honorary members were announced on 7th of July 2022, during the conference dinner of 21st Triennial Conference of EAPR in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland: Mike Storey and Kazimiera Zgórska.
New research from Western University has found potato beetles can break down and regrow muscles on demand, allowing them to preserve energy over the winter, as Jeff Renaud of the University of Western Ontario reports in this article published by Phys.Org. This explains how beetles are able to save energy all winter, yet be ready fly and mate immediately in the spring.
Improving the reliability of trap cropping to help farmers overcome potato cyst nematode (PCN) pressure, is being investigated as part of a new feasibility study, funded by Defra and Innovate UK. The project will look at ‘DeCyst solanaceous’ trap crops, which stimulate PCN to hatch at a different point in the rotation to when potatoes are planted. As a result, mature female PCN are prevented from completing their lifecycle, reducing the impact on potato crops.
Gustavo Teixeira knows the best way to supply more food to a growing population is by wasting less of it. As a new assistant professor and potato postharvest physiologist with University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Teixeira will use advanced scientific techniques to help Idaho potato growers, processors and shippers waste fewer of the spuds they harvest.
This op-ed article is by Dave Douches (PhD), professor and Director of the Potato Breeding and Genetics Program and Director of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Graduate Program at Michigan State University, and Project Director of the Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership. “As a scientist working in potato breeding for over 40 years, one may wonder why I am talking about trust and critical thinking.”
Canadian research: Using hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality more quickly, efficiently
Currently, the traditional way to find out whether or not a potato is good to go to market is basic and old-fashioned – cut it open and look to see if there are defects. A new research project at Lethbridge College aims to use cutting-edge near-infrared (NIR) hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality such as internal defects, greening and specific gravity more quickly and efficiently.
University of Idaho entomology doctoral student Kelie Yoho’s research suggests mineral oils could offer an environmentally friendly tool to help potato seed growers avoid losses to potato virus Y (PVY). U of I master’s student Nathan Gelles has studied promising methods to promote sprouting in freshly harvested potatoes.
Farmers throughout southern and eastern Idaho were befuddled by the bizarre symptoms of crop damage that surfaced in their potato fields following a brief period of heavy rainfall in May of 2017. Pam Hutchinson, University of Idaho Extension potato cropping systems weed specialist, has studied the problem – heavy rains prior to potato emergence can move herbicides too deep into the soil, where they’re more accessible by shoots and tuber roots than usual, which could, in turn, cause crop damage.
Traditionally, potato producers in Canada use the late fall to prep their potato beds for the following spring. The long-established process has its benefits, but also creates concerns, including loss of soil fertility. A new research project at Lethbridge College will work to determine what steps can be taken to ensure the best result for producers, while also moving towards environmentally sustainable agriculture practices.
Texas A&M AgriLife researchers modify potato starches to increase culinary and industrial applications
Humble potatoes are a rich source not only of dietary carbohydrates for humans, but also of starches for numerous industrial applications. Texas A&M AgriLife scientists are learning how to alter the ratio of potatoes’ two starch molecules – amylose and amylopectin – to increase both culinary and industrial applications.
Researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island are beginning their search for a potato variety more resistant to potato wart following a provincial economic loss of 300 million pounds of potatoes. Xiuquan (Xander) Wang, a UPEI associate professor working on the project, said the funding from Genome Atlantic will go toward comparing the genes of different potato varieties.
The Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) has appointed Richard Harrison as the Managing Director of the Plant Sciences Group (PSG) as of 1 September 2022. Richard Harrison currently leads NIAB’s research work in arable crops, and NIAB’s contribution to the Crop Science Centre, an alliance between the University of Cambridge and NIAB.
The International Potato Center (CIP), the globally active Dutch seed potato company HZPC, and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) recently announced the launch of a second, five-year phase of their partnership to develop climate-resilient potatoes for tropical and subtropical conditions. CIP and HZPC will combine their experience, resources and germplasm to breed and select potato varieties suitable for farmers in tropical and subtropical Asia.
Plants can’t speak up when they are thirsty. And visual signs, such as shriveling or browning leaves, don’t start until it’s too late. Now, researchers have created a wearable sensor for leaves that shares data to a smartphone app and website about the percent of water content lost by the plant.
Potato storage is one of the backbones of Idaho’s iconic spud industry. After being harvested, more than 80 percent of the state’s potato crop is stored until it’s needed by processors and other customers. Efforts by University of Idaho researchers to improve potato storage technology got a boost recently thanks to a $1 million investment to create an endowed research professorship.
A good source of fibre and full of antioxidants, the potato is one of the most important food crops in the world – a crop that climate change is taking its toll on. How do different potatoes respond to heat, drought and waterlogging stresses? EU-backed scientists are investigating the changes that make potatoes resilient or susceptible.
Imagine being able to prevent childhood blindness with rice. No, this isn’t a biblical miracle. It’s the reality of genetically modified organisms. A 2015 Pew survey found that a majority of Americans don’t think GMO foods are safe to eat. But the same poll found a notable exception to that trend. 88% of scientists said they were safe to eat. Why?
The health and success of Idaho’s staple crop is receiving renewed support with the launch of the new University of Idaho Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory. As Emily Pearce reports for Moscow-Pullman Daily News, the $5.6 million lab opened its doors to the community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, complete with potato-themed desserts and guided tours of the new space.
The Horizon 2020 EU project Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato (ADAPT), in which Europatat is participating, aims to elucidate potato tolerance to single and combined abiotic stresses, and to develop new strategies for potato improvement. A set of 30 potato cultivars were selected for studies in controlled glasshouse experiments.
Thanks to a collaboration between researchers across the world, including the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, potato breeders will now have a much better toolkit to develop new varieties best suited to their needs in a changing climate. By identifying useful traits—like local adaptability and climate flexibility— in some of the dozens of wild varieties of potatoes, researchers could help breeders cut down on the time and cost to develop new cultivars.
Potato production in East Africa is under increasing threat from the invasive and highly destructive potato cyst nematode (PCN) Globodera rostochiensis. Researchers have now developed an organic technology from banana plant waste material which might well being a practical solution for potato farmers. Dubbed ‘wrap-and-plant,’ the solution involves enclosing potato seed before planting in a thick absorbent paper made from the fibers of banana plants.
More than 20 years after the first release of the human genome, scientists at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, have for the first time deciphered the highly complex genome of the potato. Their impressive technical feat, published in Nature Genetics, will accelerate efforts to breed superior varieties.
New Zealand’s potato Centre of Excellence to be grower-centric, identify problems and devise solutions
The board of Potatoes NZ Inc. (PNZ) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Lincoln University to launch a research partnership which includes a Centre of Excellence for Potato Research and Extension, based in Canterbury. The research conducted at the Centre will be focused on working with potato growers to identify and understand the problems confronting them and to devise solutions to those problems.
In this edition of the SpudChat podcast, Ryan Barrett with the Prince Edward Island Potato Board talks to Dr. Christine Noronha, a research entomologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Charlottetown. Christine is an expert on wireworm and has been doing a lot of work on wireworm research in cooperation with PEI potato growers for the last more than ten years.
Maine researchers are on their way to creating a climate-resistant potato in order to maintain Maines’s ability to produce potato harvests. This has become a growing threat to Maine as climate change has impacted the growth of potatoes, making their quality go down, and the crop numbers drop dramatically.
The Colorado potato beetle has evolved resistance to more than 50 different kinds of insecticides, making the insect a “super pest” that wreaks havoc on potatoes around the world. New research finds that the beetle achieved this feat largely by turning to a deep pool of diversity within its genome, which allowed different populations across the U.S. to quickly evolve resistance to nearly anything humans have thrown at it.