US: Spud breeders focus on PCN-resistant russets

John O’Connell/Capital Press
Rich Novy, right, a potato breeder with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen, Idaho, saves breeding clones crossed from an Irish parent with late blight resistance while evaluating more than 100,000 first-year “single hill” clones Sept. 28 in trials hosted in Aberdeen.A project underway in Aberdeen, Idaho, aims to develop russet potatoes with resistance to pale cyst nematode, while identifying new molecular markers associated with resistance. Researchers with the local potato breeding program harvested a special block of first-year clones on Sept. 29, screened for their ability to help the industry cope with potato cyst nematode. The block contained a half dozen plants from each of 223 breeding clones resulting from crosses of Western Russet and Eden, a round Scottish variety with known resistance to potato cyst nematode. Joe Kuhl, a University of Idaho associate professor of plant genetics, will also use clones from the plot in genetic mapping research to identify new genes associated with PCN resistance. Kuhl said he’s midway through a five-year project focused on breeding PCN-resistant russets, funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. More