Researchers engineer heat tolerance in potato crops

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute and the University of St. Andrews have developed a technique to ‘engineer’ heat tolerance in potato crops, potentially providing potato breeders with a valuable tool in their quest to create varieties suited to the requirements of growers, industry and retailers. The potato crop is particularly vulnerable to increased temperature, which is considered to be the most important uncontrollable factor affecting growth and yield, according to the researchers. By comparing many different types of potato, scientists at the Institute have found a version of a gene involved in the heat stress response that is more active in potato types that can tolerant high temperature. The team went on to show that the switch that turns the protective gene on  is different in the heat tolerant types. More

Colorado State University receives funding for Dickeya study

Image result for dickeya potatoIt was announced this week that Colorado State University will receive $264,600 in funding from USDA to study the spread of pathogens including Dickeya. Dr. Amy Charkowski, head of CSU’s Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, will lead the project. This grant is part of a $4.8 million investment from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study important challenges in U.S agriculture. The National Potato Council (NPC) submitted a letter in support of funding this project, which is necessary in fighting the spread of a pathogen which can cause significant crop loss. (Source: National Potato Council)

Australia: Research team aims to extract high quality proteins from processing wastewater

Researchers dr. Jocelyn Midgley (Simplot Australia) and professor Vicki Chen, from UNSW School of Chemical Engineering in Sydney, Australia, associate professor Jayashree Arcot and PhD student Shirin Dabestani, plan to find a solution to extract valuable high quality proteins from wastewater. Wastewater effluent from the food processing industries contains high concentrations of potassium, COD and BOD (chemical and biochemical oxygen demand) caused by the presence of starch, proteins, amino acids and sugars. The waste stream from the potato processing industry particularly contains considerable amounts of these valuable by-products. Protein, particularly plant protein, is a food trend that has been gathering increasing momentum with consumers. Although the level of protein in this wastewater is low, large volumes of potatoes are processed, thus for Simplot Australia the project was an investigation of opportunities. More

US: Funded projects to benefit Idaho’s potato industry

Thirteen projects that seek to enhance the competitiveness of Idaho specialty crops will receive a total of $1.5 million from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture this year. Final approval from USDA, which funds the program, is expected in September, reports Capital Press. Five of this year’s funded projects will benefit Idaho’s potato industry. Those include a $199,000 grant to University of Idaho to develop an early warning system to detect foliar potato pathogens, $122,000 to Boise State University to create a quick and economical way to evaluate acrylamide content in fried potato products and $161,000 for Idaho State University to detect potato viruses using unmanned aircraft systems. The Idaho Potato Commission received $116,000 to research the use of natural compounds as potato sprout inhibitors and nematicides and $107,000 to assist its international marketing and promotion efforts. More

Research project focused on ideal transport conditions for potatoes

In the export of potatoes, there are many different ways of setting up reefer containers, and each expert has his own vision. But only a few wonder why a certain set-up is chosen. Agroplant in the Netherlands did ask that question. The answer could not be given in just one sentence. “There are so many discussions about the best set-up for the containers,” says Joris van der Lee from Agroplant. “Everyone has a different opinion about the ideal set-up.” The opinions of various, independent experts were even so far apart that Agroplant started asking: what is actually the correct set up? In collaboration with Leo Lukasse from Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, part of Wageningen University & Research, a research project was launched to look closely at container ventilation. More

Developing wireless sensor technologies to fight potato rot in storage facilities

Image result for potato storageIn Idaho, potatoes are both a humble stereotype and a half-billion dollar crop. According to the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, every spring farmers plant more than 320,000 acres of potatoes valued at between $550-$700 million. Yet unbeknownst to most consumers, roughly 30 percent of the potatoes harvested spoil before they reach a grocery store shelf. Boise State University researchers Harish Subbaraman, David Estrada and Yantian Hou hope to change that. In a recently awarded one-year $413,681 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant, Boise State is collaborating with Idaho State University and commercial industry partners to develop a wireless sensor network that would be able to detect temperature, humidity levels, and carbon dioxide and ammonia levels in real time in storage facilities, to help with early detection of potato rot. The cloud-enabled sensor system will feature three-dimensional hot spot visualization and help predict on-coming rot or deteriorating quality of stored potatoes. Continue reading

UK: European agribusiness representatives visit Hutton Institute to establish potato links

German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce visitors (c) James Hutton LtdJames Hutton Limited, the James Hutton Institute’s commercial subsidiary, has welcomed two delegations of European visitors to the Institute’s Dundee site as part of efforts to share knowledge and ideas with a huge variety of interest groups across the globe. A group of 20 visitors from the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce visited the Institute as part of a market research trip to investigate the potato supply chain in the UK and Ireland. After a brief introduction to the Institute’s work, the delegation visited the Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC), the UK’s genebank of landrace and wild potatoes, which is held in trust at the Dundee site. Similarly, a group of 25 members of FIWAP, a non-profit organisation responsible for the promotion and improvement of potatoes and seed potatoes in the southern Belgian area of Wallonia, visited the Institute’s site in Dundee to gain a close understanding of the Scottish potato seed and exporting industries  Continue reading

Nek-aan-nekrace tussen veredelaars en Phytophthora

Terwijl veredelingsbedrijven aardappelrassen ontwikkelen die resistent zijn tegen Phytophthora infestans, ontwikkelt de ziekteverwekker nieuwe agressieve stammen die zich snel over Europa verspreiden. Dat blijkt uit onderzoek van EuroBlight. Fytopatholoog Francine Govers is niet verbaasd. ‘Phytophthora is zo dynamisch.’ Gaan de nieuwe varianten de aardappeloogst aantasten? “Dat zal in de komende maanden blijken. We weten niet of de belangrijkste aardappelrassen resistent zijn tegen deze stammen. Dat kan per ras verschillen. De veredelaars vinden resistentie tegen Phytophthora belangrijk, maar nog belangrijker vinden ze de opbrengst, kleur en smaak van de aardappel.” Meer

US: Neonicotinoids losing efficiency in potato psyllid control

Neonicotinoid insecticides losing efficiency in potato psyllid controlThe potato industry may be losing a mainstay in the battle against psyllids, according to a recent Texas A&M AgriLife Research study. Ada Szczepaniec, AgriLife Research entomologist in Amarillo, said while there may be varying degrees of resistance to neonicotinoid insecticides in populations of psyllids across Texas, her recent study indicates they’ve lost their punch. “We are able to provide strong evidence that these insecticides no longer suppress populations of psyllids below desirable levels,” Szczepaniec said. “However, there may be some measures to help in this ongoing battle against the .” Szczepaniec said the study, funded by the Texas Department of Agriculture, indicates applications of neonicotinoid insecticides at planting, which are a considerable cost for producers, should be replaced with investments in post-emergence applications of insecticides other than neonicotinoids. More

Battle plans for potato disease management

What is the best approach to disease management at planting — seed treatments or in-furrow applications? Or is this really a question about what crop protectant is being applied to manage certain reoccurring, problematic disease like rhizoctonia or fusarium dry rot? Or is keeping diseases at bay more to do with the variety, quality and health of the seed, the location of the field, the water, climate and soil conditions or the length of rotation? All good questions, but with the uncertainty growers face at planting each year, there’s likely a hundred more. That’s why companies like Miller Research in Rupert, Idaho, are hunting down the answers to all the early season potato production questions and many more. Earlier this year, Miller Research President and CEO Jeff Miller presented his company’s recent findings at an annual potato pest management seminar near Rupert, Idaho. More

Research: Can vitamin B-1 supplementation control potato diseases?

A specific group of vitamins, the B group, may offer a new potential strategy to control diseases in crops. Recent laboratory research in tobacco, grapevine, rice and cucumber has shown that application of vitamin B-1 prepares plants to fight off pathogen attacks more rapidly and efficiently. This mechanism is called priming and can somewhat be compared to vaccination in humans. Researchers at Oregon State University’s Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center tested the potential use of vitamin B-1 to prevent PVY buildup and spread of the virus in potato. The research was recently published in the American Journal of Potato Research and was partly funded by the Oregon State University Agricultural Research Foundation. More

Texas A&M to make designer potatoes to increase consumption

(Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Research)The Texas A&M AgriLife Research is making designer potatoes to increase potatoes consumption. “The average consumption in the U.S. is 113 pounds per year per person. But overall potato consumption in the U.S. has generally declined somewhat.” said Dr. Creighton Miller, a potato breeder with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. Miller said the objective of the Texas A&M potato breeding program is to develop improved varieties adapted specifically to Texas environmental conditions. “So what we are doing now is developing unique varieties that have a tendency to appeal to the younger set with high income who are willing to try something different,” he said. One type is a small potato, he said, adding that within the trials he is looking for varieties with a heavy set of small potatoes. More

Potato extract shows satiety benefits for healthy women: Slendesta data

© iStockConsumption of a Kemin’s Slendesta potato protease inhibitor II one hour before breakfast may lower hunger and the desire to eat, says a new study by scientists from Kemin and Herbalife International of America. The benefits of the ingredient are reported to be related to a protein naturally found in white potatoes. The ingredient, when taken in the form of a tablet or capsule, one hour before taking a main meal, is said to enhance the body’s own release of cholecystotinin (CCK), an appetite-suppressing hormone that works by delaying the emptying of the stomach (gastric emptying) and thereby promoting the feeling of fullness. New data, published in a scientific journal, supports such claims with a 15 mg dose of the ingredient also associated with significantly higher postprandial fullness in healthy women. More

US: Northwest Potato Research Consortium awarded grants for 37 regional potato projects

The Northwest Potato Research Consortium recently approved a combined $1.5 million in grant funding to 37 research projects. The consortium, formed in 2012, is funded with $650,000 each from the Idaho and Washington potato commissions and $200,000 from the Oregon Potato Commission to support regional potato research. Andy Jensen, who manages the consortium, said researchers were invited to present potential projects to the consortium during an October meeting in Boise, where 51 projects were approved to be re-submitted as full proposals. More

UK: Sainsbury Laboratory received approval for trial of GMO potatoes

In the United Kingdom, farming minister George Eustice (DEFRA) has approved a four-year trial of genetically modified (GM) potatoes at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich between 2017 and 2021. The trial site, which is at the John Innes Centre, must meet various restrictions, including maintaining a width of 20 metres around the GM plants, and not exceed 1,000 sq m in size. The field trials are part of TSL’s Potato Partnership Project to develop a Maris Piper potato that is blight and nematode resistant, bruises less and produces less acrylamide when cooked at high temperatures. More

North America: Guarding against Dickeya

With clean seed recognized as the best defence against this new blackleg-causing pathogen, the demand for Dickeya testing is growing fast. After triggering major crop losses in the United States, Dickeya has been dominating the potato meetings circuit in North America for the past year or two. In Canada, some of the discussions revolve around the consequences for growers should the new disease makes its way into this country — but some industry experts maintain Dickeya is likely already here. “I don’t know what the extent is [in Canada], but we found Dickeya in samples that were sent to us from Ontario and from New Brunswick,” says Gary Secor, professor of plant pathology at North Dakota State University (NDSU). “I think that certainly the potential is there for Dickeya to be present and I think the Canadian farmer should be aware of that and take it seriously.” More

Research update: Latest indicators show potatoes can indeed grow on Mars

The International Potato Center (CIP) launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions and thereby prove they are also able to grow in extreme climates on Earth. This Phase Two effort of CIP’s proof of concept experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began on February 14, 2016 when a tuber was planted in a specially constructed CubeSat contained environment built by engineers from University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima, based upon designs and advice provided by NASA, California.  Preliminary results are positive. A special potato was placed inside a sealed container that simulates Mars temperature, air pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. The results so far are positive; cameras inside the canister show sprouts (see picture above). This is the second phase of the Potatoes on Mars project, which aims to figure out which extreme conditions the hardy tuber can thrive in. If they can grow on Mars, surely they can survive in areas here on Earth that have been devastated by climate change. More

Nitrogen proves healthy for soil

An Iowa State University (ISU) report shows applying nitrogen fertilizer at certain levels to various crops helps maintain carbon in the soil, bringing a range of environmental and production benefits. ISU agronomy professor Michael Castellano co-authored the study and says there’s long been disagreement among scientists and growers over fertilizer’s impact on the soil. “A lot of folks are under the impression that nitrogen fertilizer, particularly anhydrous ammonia, it may be bad for soil health, it may degrade the carbon and the organic matter in our soil,” Castellano says. “We found just the opposite in our studies across the state, all the way from northwestern to southeastern Iowa.” More

Accelerating Africa’s economic growth through root and tuber crops

The 13th International Symposium for the International Society for Tropical Root Crops- Africa Branch (ISTRC-AB) has kicked off in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The four day meeting (5-8 March) brings together over 300 delegates from government agriculture ministries in Africa, development partners, international and national agriculture research organisations, academia, private sector as well as farmers with an interest in root and tuber crops in Africa. Participants will present and discuss latest research, innovations, technologies and trends on root crops. “We hope we will get practical hands-on solutions, that can help address farmers’ constraints in production of root crops, with the modest investment dedicated to research and development of these crops” said Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries (MALF). He encouraged researchers to work together with the farmers, policy makers and all stakeholders, for co-ownership of research findings to increase chances of technology adoption for the intended improved productivity and utilization of root crops. More

Canada: Researchers release 15 new potato varieties

New potatoes and green parsleyReds, a wedge with an edge, and a super storer are among this year’s new potato selections from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Red-skinned varieties made up half of the total selections that Ag Canada potato breeders released during their annual ‘release open house’. This includes a multi-purpose variety that shows promise for processing as wedges and as a traditional table potato. Breeders have also developed Russet selections that have a longer shelf life in cold storage while maintaining stable sugars, making them attractive new selections to french fry processors. In all, 15 potato selections were unveiled this year. Researchers are increasingly using DNA technology to identify genes and strands linked to favourable traits. This will lead to the development of germplasm with the potential for better yields, nutritional value, and cooking and processing qualities. More

Canada: Potato research, processing investment strong in Alberta

Potato research is firmly en-trenched at the Agriculture Canada Lethbridge Research Centre as production expands in the West.
Yves Plante, associate director, said the centre plans to maintain its scientists and researchers and is seeking to fill another research position dedicated to potato health.
“We are fully committed to maintaining the research activities at the centre here. It’s a huge investment, when we decide to add additional professional scientists to our team. It’s a significant commitment and funding is in place.”
On Feb. 15, the centre’s potato breeding and research department presented 15 new varieties of potatoes for evaluation by the industry. Southern Alberta potato production has given rise to establishment of several potato processors over the years. McCain and Lamb Weston have plants, as does Old Dutch and Frito-Lay. More

Breeder seeks healthy french fry

Overcooking french fries and potato chips produces a chemical called acrylamide that can be toxic and harmful to humans if eaten in large amounts. John Lu, an Agriculture Canada researcher who works at the Lethbridge Research Centre, is investigating acrylamide and how it can be reduced in tubers and potato products.
The chemical isn’t found in raw or fresh potatoes but it is formed when they are fried or subjected to certain types of processing. Scientists call it the Maillard reaction and it is the reason potato colour changes to golden, brown and eventually black. Lu is working to develop potato cultivars with low propensity to produce acrylamide when processed. More

New tool could mean faster tests for Zebra chip disease

A new portable diagnostic tool for identifying the devastating zebra chip disease may bring faster and more accurate results to stem its spread, according to New Zealand scientists. Zebra chip is a bacteria which alters a plant’s metabolism and burns striped patches in potatoes, making both the potato and its seed inedible and unmarketable. According to Dr Grant Smith who is a plant pathologist with the Plant and Food Research institute in New Zealand has been developing the tool as current tests were not accurate enough. “Because they’re relatively new pathogens we don’t know an awful lot about it so we don’t understand quite what the genetics, what the population structure is, of this bacterium,” Dr Smith said. According to Dr Smith, the new technology would also be portable and cut waiting times from two-three days to roughly 30 minutes. More

Canada: In search of better chippers, wedgers and mashers

20170215 Tatters roThere were a lot of new potato varieties to choose from at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Potato Selection Release Open House. This was the second year the Ontario release has been held in Guelph. Every year, federally sponsored plant scientists come up new strains of tatters. A few weeks in advance of the planting season, those varieties and the scientific evidence related to them are put on display. Growers then have the option to test them out. Vanessa Currie is a research technician with U of G’s potato research program. She was on-hand at the release. The potato industry, she said, is varied and always changing. There are table potatoes and chipping potatoes, potatoes that make optimal French fries and those that make the best wedges. This year, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is excited by the new varieties of red potatoes. One new line is testing well as a wedge contender, and another has improved cold storage capacities. Red-skinned varieties made up about half of the total selections at the open house.

US: New research lab to study genetics of potatoes to prevent losses while in storage

Patricia Santos and Dylan Kosma in their labThe University of Nevada Reno’s plant biology tag team, Dylan Kosma and Patricia Santos, are searching for ways to reduce potato crop losses during storage. The University’s Kosma-Santos lab, in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, was recently awarded a $1.37 million grant by the National Science Foundation to investigate the molecular-genetics and biochemistry that underlies potato crop losses during tuber storage. As the number one vegetable crop in the United States and a top five crop for the state of Nevada, potato crop losses can be economically devastating to farmers and the potato industry as a whole. A large proportion of these crop losses are due to factors such as rapid water loss and disease while in storage. “Even a 5 percent reduction in potato losses during storage would improve the economic return for the producers and the potato industry by $170 million,” Kosma said. The research delves into comprehending how different potato varieties can have different storage lives. More