Research: Examining potatoes’ past could improve spuds of the future

Examining Potatoes' Past Could Improve Spuds of the FutureThe old adage of looking to the past to understand the future certainly applies to improving potatoes. Examining the ancestors of the modern, North American cultivated potato has revealed a set of common genes and important genetic pathways that have helped spuds adapt over thousands of years. Robin Buell, Michigan State University Foundation Professor of Plant Biology, shows potential genetic keys that could ensure the crop will thrive in the future. “Worldwide, potato is the third most important crop grown for direct human consumption, yet breeders have struggled to produce new varieties that outperform those released over a century ago,” Buell said. “By analyzing cultivated potato and its wild relatives using modern genomics approaches, we were able to reveal key factors that could address food security in 21st century agriculture.” More