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Bioimpuls: Dutch potato breeders battling late blight

In 2009 a nationally funded potato breeding project was initiated in the Netherlands with the main goal of supplying the Dutch organic potato sector with new non-GMO potato varieties resistant to the late blight disease. This project became known as Bioimpuls, an alternative to the breeding program at Wageningen University called DuRPh (Durable Resistance against Phytophthora through cisgenic marker-free modification).

Under the banner of Bioimpuls, breeding experts use classical introgression breeding procedures supported with molecular marker analyses. “The program is essentially a
cooperative initiative between Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and Louis Bolk Institute (LBI),” explains Peter Keijzer, the overall project manager of the Bioimpuls
project.

As part of the Bioimpuls project, most of the botanical seeds derived from crosses made in Wageningen are distributed over participating breeding stations with their associated hobby breeders and so-called farmer breeders (independent professional breeders and enthusiastic farmers). In a system of participatory variety selection (PVS), these breeders then perform initial selections under organic conditions during at least one field generation.

Keijzer comments on the current status and the future outlook of the Bioimpuls project, noting that during the 2018 season, botanical seeds of crosses with 3, 4 and even 5 different late blight resistance genes were made available for use by participating breeders.

“This means that stacking of resistance genes is well under way, although
not all the necessary molecular markers are available as of yet. Molecular markers to check for the actual presence of each of these specific genes in the selected individuals
derived from these crosses.”

This article was published in the launch issue of Global Potato News. The full article was published on page 18 – 19 of the magazine – go here to view it as a pdf file. For further information: Peter Keijzer at p.keijzer@louisbolk.nl