PAA held 99th annual meeting

The Potato Association of America held their 99th Annual Meeting during July 19-23, 2015 in the east coast port city of Portland, Maine.  More than 230 attendees enjoyed great scientific exchange, friendship, good food, and tours.  The social highlight of the week was a charter ferry ride and a lobster dinner on Peaks Island in Casco Bay.  Most people represented Canada and the USA, but others were from Mexico, Peru, Japan, India, Holland, Turkey and Israel. Ninety-four presentations were made including sixteen in poster session. Leigh Morrow, PAA15 Maine LAC Co-chair and Director Agronomy North America for McCain Foods reports for PotatoBusiness.com.

The meeting opened in general session for the symposium, “Mitigation of Acrylamide: A Multidisciplinary Approach to an Industry Problem”.  The presenters at the acrylamide symposium discussed the way that the potato industry has addressed the challenges of keeping acrylamide levels as low as reasonably achievable. Carl Rosen from the University of Minnesota discussed the “The impact of Agronomic and Storage Practices on Acrylamide in Processed Potatoes”. Dr. Rosen covered the physiological and chemical maturity of the potato crop and the influence on fertilizer inputs and environmental stress. He also discussed management practices that prevent CIS were also shown to result in the lowest acrylamide levels for most varieties. Susie Thompson from North Dakota State University discussed “Successes in Traditional Breeding Programs”. She discussed varietal differences and storage studies affecting acrylamide levels after processing. Her report revealed that screening of varieties in processing trials, a cooperative effort with breeders from across the United States, has identified excellent candidates with good product quality and lower levels of acrylamides. Paul Bethke from the University of Wisconsin gave an update for the penultimate year in his talk “Progress and Success of the SCRI Acrylamide Project”. Emphasizing the national cooperation of breeders to address processing quality and measuring acrylamide in elite and advanced breeding lines the program has been successful in identifying promising cultivars and clones for continued success breeding low acrylamide varieties.  The Symposium concluded with a round table discussion on the subject. The three symposium presenters fielded question from the audience about their work and the continued success of the SCRI project and where to go in the future to continue national collaboration of breeders and their programs to continue to address acrylamide and other important issues to breeders as they respond to the needs of producers and processors.

Dr. Noelle Barkley, of the International Potato Center (CIP) genebank in Lima, Peru was an invited, international guest speaker.  She also spoke during joint session to a large gathering on “CIP: Maintaining Potato Diversity for Future Generations”. CIP has one of 11 genebanks in the Consultative Group of International Agriculture Research and houses the global collections of potato (7171 accessions), sweet potato (7594 accessions) and Andean root and tuber crops (2529 accessions).  The majority of the material is maintained as clones and CIP provides this germplasm  for research, breeding and training purposes worldwide.  The collections are backed-up in central Peru, Brazil, and for the wild potato accessions, in the global seed bank in Norway.  These duplicates ensure no germplasm is lost should something happen to the main genebank in Lima.  Projects at CIP include cryopreservation, transgenic studies on late blight resistance,  a true-to-type experiment where in vitro material is compared with field samples and  genotyping the entire cultivated potato collection.  A student working through Virginia Tech is studying the impact of genebanks in developing countries – how would their quality of life be affected if genebanks were not there.  The core mission of CIP is to reduce poverty and hunger and improve nutrition and gender equality throughout the developing world.

The PAA membership is over 500 and it is organized into six sections, 1) Breeding & Genetics, 2) Plant Protection, 3) Physiology, 4) Extension, Production and Management, 5) Certification, and 6) Utilization and Marketing.  Sections hold business meetings during the PAA Annual Meeting.  Symposium topics for future years are proposed from these section meetings.  The largest section is Breeding and Genetics.  Under their umbrella research presentations were made on the pursuit of inbreeding and diploid cultivars for making potato selection and breeding more efficient.  Also, there were several reports about progress in using SNP genotyping to tag useful genes.  There was a very promising report on the good prospects of mining exotic germplasm for folate levels that would make potato a major contributor of this essential vitamin in the US diet.  A comprehensive assessment of over 20 years of study on the collecting and characterization of wild potato in the southwest USA was presented.  This area and these species were used as models to give insight into how the status and dynamics of genetic diversity relate between potato plants in the wild and in the genebank.  Two presentations were made about Wisconsin scientists’ cooperative research and development program with CIP and INIA colleagues for potato germplasm and breeding on the Peruvian Altiplano.  They are addressing questions pertaining to the status of plants in the wild, in the genebank, and how to deploy germplasm to address local problems like frost, late blight, drought, weevil, wart.

The week concluded with an Awards Banquet to honor Honorary Life Member (HLM) inductees as well as the winners of the graduate student presentations.  Winning students receive financial awards from the Frank L. Haynes Graduate Student Research Award Competition endowment.  Thirteen graduate students participated and the first place presentation was by Derek Herman of Washington State University on the topic of “Screening Sweetening-resistant Clones for Tolerance to Heat Stress”.  Derek developed a post-harvest protocol to identify lines that do not lose their resistance to cold-induced sweetening as a result of heat stress. Potatoes with low invertase as a result of RNAi silencing were shown to maintain resistance to cold-induced sweetening following a heat stress treatment, but many other clones lost resistance to CIS. Payette Russet, a new line from the Idaho breeding program, was a rare example of a conventionally bred clone that had excellent CIS following the heat stress treatment.  Second place went to Luke Steere from Michigan State University who spoke on potato early die syndrome and third place winner was Amanda Crook of North Dakota State University.  Her research studied the effect of simulated glyphosate drift on potato.  During the banquet four PAA members were inducted as HLMs.  Drs. Gary Secor and Neil Gudmestad of North Dakota State University, Dr. Alex Pavlista of the University of Nebraska and Dr. Don Halseth of Cornell University.  All men were honored for long and fruitful careers in potato research and education.

More information can be found regarding the PAA, plus links to the American Journal of Potato Research (AJPR) and past and future PAA meetings at http://potatoassociation.org/.  Abstracts of the 2015 meeting will be published in the AJPR, but can also be found through the PAA link and navigating to the 2015 meeting home page. The 2016 meeting will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Source: Potato Business