Breeding

Potatoes could step up performance under climate change pressure

New research shows that potatoes – often cultivated as a rainfed crop with little or no irrigation – are still the go-to tuber when times get tough. Agricultural Research Service agricultural engineer David Fleisher and colleagues wanted to measure how potato plants would respond to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and the increasingly erratic rainfall patterns expected to result from global climate change. So the team conducted two outdoor-chamber studies to evaluate effects of short-term drought cycles at current and elevated CO2 levels. Fleisher and his research partners – plant physiologist Richard Sicher, soil scientist Dennis Timlin, research leader V.R. Reddy, and research associate Jinyoung Barnaby—all work at the ARS Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. More