Argentinian scientists from INTA are set to release Latin America’s first genetically edited potato, developed using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. This innovation, part of Dr. Matías González’s doctoral thesis, aims to inhibit the gene causing enzymatic browning, a process that affects potatoes’ flavor, texture, and nutritional value. The edited potato could significantly reduce food waste and financial losses for farmers and retailers.
Kenyan researchers have engineered a blight-resistant GM potato, potentially transforming agriculture by increasing yields and minimizing pesticide use. The “Global Biotech Potato Partnership” project has shown promising results in confined field trials across Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria. The collaborative project, after promising trials, anticipates boosting harvests from 10 to 40 tonnes per hectare. Awaiting regulatory approval, this innovation could significantly enhance food security and sustainability, marking a major advance in biotech crops.
Vicentina S.A., a trailblazer in Uruguay’s potato industry, celebrated its legacy and innovation at the annual Vicentina Potato Day. The event highlighted the company’s global impact, advancements in seed potato production, and commitment to sustainable practices. “Our ambitions transcend national boundaries, fostering growth regionally and globally on the bedrock of innovation, sustainability, collaboration, and trust,” says Alessandro Mietto, co-founder and partner of Vicentina S.A.
Royal HZPC Group is set to revolutionize potato research with a new universal variety set for academic institutions, launching on November 3, 2023. Available from January 1, 2024, within the EU, this set offers diverse in vitro plantlets to expedite research. It embodies Royal HZPC’s commitment to sustainable potato breeding and global food supply, inviting collaboration to advance knowledge and improve crop understanding. More information is available at www.hzpc.com/96.
At the foot of the Badaling Great Wall in Beijing, British scientist Philip Kear is cultivating disease-resistant potatoes within the greenhouse of the China Center for Asia and the Pacific (CCCAP) of the International Potato Center (CIP). Kear aims to enhance potato productivity in China and globally. The initiative also seeks to identify genes resistant to various diseases, fostering international cooperation to combat challenges like potato late blight.
Hugo Campos, roots, tubers and banana breeding lead at CGIAR, discusses the global challenge of anemia, especially in children, in a recent article published by The Des Moines Register. Highlighting the higher prevalence in low-income countries, Campos emphasizes the potential of biofortification. The International Potato Center’s development of iron-enriched potatoes aims to combat anemia. These potatoes can provide essential iron, especially in regions with high potato consumption. This innovation offers a sustainable solution to address iron deficiencies and improve global health.
In Chile’s lush landscapes, the Contreras family’s “Papas Arcoiris” or “Rainbow Potatoes” are revolutionizing the culinary world with their vibrant hues. The company was founded by Boris Contreras Kusch along with his father, Andrés Contreras (1943-2014). Boris is also the founder of NOVASEED and PatPot Chips (Patagonian Potato Chips). He envisions a potato that transcends its staple status to become a gourmet delight. His vision is not just to create new varieties, but to elevate the potato to a gourmet ingredient, worthy of the finest dining experiences.
Potato breeder Royal HZPC Group reported a significant sales increase in sales for 2022/2023, primarily in Asia and America. The turnover rose to €420 million from €350 million the previous year. The company sold 944,000 tonnes of seed potatoes, driven by higher selling prices due to increased transport costs. CEO Gerard Backx emphasized their focus on efficiency and research to develop sustainable potato varieties. He further added that the company plans to roll out numerous robust potato varieties equipped with vital resistances.
In the Andes, “seed guardians” are striving to protect the diverse range of over 1,300 potato varieties, deeply tied to the region’s culture and traditions. The Potato Park in Peru, established in 2002, works to preserve the potatoes’ genetic diversity and the traditions of their cultivators, while researching resilience to climate change. Efforts at the Potato Park form part of a global initiative supporting the in-situ conservation of vital food plants against climate change and other threats.
The International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru introduced a new potato variety, CIP-Matilde, designed to resist late blight disease of potatoes. Late blight caused a global loss of $6.7 billion in 2022. CIP scientists have delved into the genetic makeup of wild crops to develop this blight-resistant variety. CIP-Matilde offers hope to farmers, especially in the Andes. Its benefits extend beyond Peru, with its derivatives being shared in African countries like Kenya, aiding millions in their livelihood.
World Potato Congress Inc.’s President, Peter VanderZaag, welcomes Tuberosum Technologies Inc. as a Silver Sustaining Partner. Tuberosum, a Canadian based potato R&D company, emphasizes efficiency and sustainability in potato production. They run breeding programs in Canada, the Netherlands, and Chile, aiming to develop resilient potato varieties with higher yields and resistance to stresses. These efforts not only benefit growers but also reduce environmental impact. Tuberosum’s goal is to enhance global food supply through traditional breeding methods.
Climate change resilience and early potato dying were the main topics at the Elora Potato Research Open House held on August 23 in Canada’s Ontario province. Vanessa Currie from the University of Guelph highlighted a five-year research study, initiated this year, focusing on potato varieties that can withstand increasing climate pressures. The annual event allows growers and buyers to preview potato varieties under testing and those that might be available in the future.
EUROPLANT Pflanzenzucht GmbH recently announced that it has established a subsidiary in Spain to expand its market presence in the Mediterranean region. From now on EUROPLANT ESPAÑA Semillas S.L. will be responsible for the distribution of the modern and high-performance potato varieties in Spain. “In order to strengthen our presence and customer support, we have decided to establish EUROPLANT ESPAÑA. Our team will operate from Sevilla, covering all cultivation regions and providing competent support to our customers,” according to Joerg Renatus, CEO of EUROPLANT Pflanzenzucht GmbH.
Solynta’s executive shift: Peter Poortinga steps up as CEO, ushering in a new era of potato breeding
Dutch hybrid potato breeder, Solynta, has appointed Peter Poortinga as its new CEO, succeeding co-founder Hein Kruyt, who will now serve as CFO. Poortinga, former CEO of Plukon Food Group, has a background in potato science from Wageningen University. He believes in Solynta’s innovative approach to potato breeding, emphasizing its potential for sustainability and global food security. With this change, Juergen Steinemann, with vast experience in the agriculture and food industry, will become Chairman of Solynta’s Supervisory Board.
Researchers Julia E. Stockem (Solynta and Wageningen University and Research), Michiel E. de Vries (Solynta), and Paul C. Struik (Wageningen University and Research) conducted three greenhouse experiments to evaluate the effects of light intensity, temperature and the proportion of far-red light in the light spectrum on tuber production. According to the research team, their findings will help breeding for heat tolerant varieties and optimise growing conditions for tuber production in indoor farming systems.
In a collaborative effort to combat climate change and resource scarcity, Northwest farmers and scientists are testing sustainable potato farming methods in Quincy, Washington State. Organized by McCain Foods, the world’s largest potato processor, the initiative aims to produce high-quality potatoes using fewer pesticides and less water.
Crafting a super spud: Researchers set the stage for climate-resistant potatoes poised to enhance nutrition
Scientists have developed a “super pangenome” that encompasses the genetic diversity of multiple potato species to enhance its resilience and nutritional quality. The pangenome includes 296 potato varieties and 60 wild species, making it the most extensive genetic database for potatoes to date. The research team aims to improve potato germplasm for climate resilience and food security.
True Potato Seed (TPS) is a unique method of potato cultivation originating from the Andean highlands of South America, where the region’s diverse microclimates fostered the potato’s evolution. Indigenous Andean communities first utilized TPS, valuing it for both consumption and cultivation. Modern agriculture recognizes TPS for its genetic diversity, aiding in breeding disease-resistant and nutritionally improved varieties. TPS offers advantages like disease resistance and cost-effective transport but faces challenges like labor intensity and genetic variability. Despite its fluctuating popularity, TPS remains crucial in developing nations, addressing infrastructure challenges and promoting socio-economic growth.
Nigeria has introduced new potato varieties to bolster its local farming and reduce dependence on European seeds. These varieties, resistant to disease and suited to Nigeria’s climate, were launched by the Nigerian Potato Seed Safety Partnership with Germany’s GIZ support. Collaborating with local research institutes, four types—Unica, Juriya, Babban, and Kyau—will be distributed. This move addresses the country’s low potato yield and emphasizes the importance of local production for food security amidst global challenges.
Glyphosate, a key herbicide globally, faces potential bans in Europe due to environmental and health concerns. Its prohibition could significantly impact European agriculture, especially high-value crops. The economic effects vary by country and farming system, with potential increased costs and yield losses. The decision to ban balances health risks against economic implications.
A new era for potato breeding: Unraveling genetic complexity, opening the door to more efficient potato breeding
PhD candidate Corentin Clot of Wageningen University & Research has made significant discoveries related to potato sexual reproduction that could simplify the breeding of this important crop. Clot’s research focused on the challenge of combining desirable traits with resistance to diseases and pests in potato varieties. He discovered that the gene involved in self-compatibility is already present in tetraploid potato varieties, and developed a two-step strategy for breeding that avoids inbreeding depression. This new approach offers a ‘third way’ between conventional breeding and true seed hybrid breeding, and has the potential to improve potato resistance and yield.
A new frontier in potato breeding: Unlocking the potential of wild potato species for late blight resistance
Researchers are exploring wild potato species for resistance to late blight, a significant disease in potato production. The study by the Institute for Breeding Research on Agricultural Crops and the University of Rostock identifies resistant species and their associated genes. The findings could guide future resistance breeding, offering a sustainable alternative to harmful fungicides.
Solynta, a Dutch startup, is revolutionizing agriculture with its development of hybrid true potato seeds. These non-GMO, pest-resilient seeds offer a sustainable alternative to traditional potato farming. Through its innovative technology, Solynta can combine beneficial traits in potatoes, including pest resistance and climate tolerance. The company’s future goals include increasing potato yields, reducing pesticide use, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
University of Maine professor Gregory Porter has been awarded the Maine Potato Industry Recognition Award by the Maine Potato Board. Porter, an agronomy professor, has developed five successful potato varieties, including the successful Caribou Russet, contributing significantly to Maine’s economy and potato industry. His work has earned him several awards, and his impact is expected to benefit future generations of Maine’s potato growers.