Genes in storage: Husband and wife team dig into what genes lead to longer potato storability

One would hardly consider Nevada to be potato country. Livestock is far and away the agricultural king in the Silver State, and all other commodities bow down before it. But in a lab at the University of Nevada, Reno, work is being done that researchers believe could eventually prevent the loss millions of tons of potatoes each year in the U.S. With the help of a $1.37 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), husband-and-wife team Dylan Kosma and Patricia Santos hope to discover, on a genetic level, ways to mitigate—if not eliminate—tuber loss in storage. The current NSF-funded project at the Kosma-Santos lab is focused on understanding the genetic reasons some potato varieties store better, for longer periods of time, than others—a question that has plagued the chip industry for years. More

Canadian research looks at the use and loss of nitrogen fertilizer in potato crops

Image result for potato nitrogenPotato plants need a lot of nitrogen to produce tubers at optimum levels, but with more applied nitrogen comes an increased risk of nitrogen loss to the atmosphere. Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, is studying the use and loss of that fertilizer in potato crops. He is testing various nitrogen fertilizer formulations and biostimulants to gauge their effect on potato productivity and nitrous oxide emissions. “In potato crops we want to be able to figure out what’s the environmental footprint and one of the main components of the environmental footprint is actually greenhouse gas emissions,” Ramirez said during a late August field day at the Crop Diversification Centre in Brooks. A biostimulant called HYT-A, has been tested on potatoes and other high-value crops in Europe, and this was included for the first time in a North American study  More

British Potato 2017: Latest technical updates from potato event

The latest potato agronomic developments were showcased and industry concerns aired at BP2017, held in Harrogate, North Yorks. More data is needed to assess and respond to the threat posed by the Dark Green 37 blight strain, which has shown resistance to fluazinam. David Nelson, field director, Branston said more understanding of the Dark Green 37 strain was needed. “It is the biggest challenge in blight control since metalaxyl resistance in the 1980s. We don’t understand it really and need to collect information in the next 12 months. We need a lot more blight scouts. Loss of glyphosate could limit land availability for growing potatoes, warned Paul Colman, technical director, Greenvale AP. “It is a critical herbicide for controlling volunteer potatoes. Landowners renting out land may make the decision they don’t want potatoes in the rotation anymore.” BASF has launched an SDHI fungicide, Allstar (fluxapyroxad) for control of rhizoctonia in potatoes. Continue reading

Simplot partners with Spanish biotech company to enhance nutritional properties of potatoes

Image result for J.R. Simplot Company para el descubrimiento de genes para la mejora de la patataIden Biotechnology – a Spanish biotechnology company – and J.R. Simplot Company, a potato processor and developer and marketer of Innate® GMO potatoes, recently entered into an agreement to explore the potential for nutritional enrichment of the potato. As part of the agreement, Iden will identify promising genes for potential use in Simplot’s proprietary Innate® biotechnology platform. Iden has established other industrial collaborations for gene trait discovery and development in row crops like wheat and corn. More. News release in Spanish

US: Potato researchers gather to find solutions for the blackleg disease

Potato researchers gather in Maine to find a solutions for the Blackleg diseaseResearchers from all over the world were in Bangor, Maine for the ‘2017 Dickeya and Pectobacterium Summit’, organized by the University of Maine Extension. They are trying to find a way to stop the blackleg potato disease that could threaten the potato industry. According to Steven Johnson, UMaine cooperative extension professor: “This is not an emerging problem. This is an existing one we are trying to get ahead of. The pathogen may rot the tubers in the field. It may produce 20 to 80 percent less yield in the field. It may rot the potatoes in storage.” Maine’s potato crop brings a lot of money to the state and provides a livelihood for many growers. All of that could be threatened because of bacteria that causes blackleg disease. It isn’t just Maine that is impacted. The disease is hitting the potato industry worldwide. Researchers from 19 states and four different countries attended the meeting trying to find solutions. More

Idaho Potato Commission takes steps to address quality concerns

University of Idaho Plant Sciences Professor Mike Thornton demonstrates how proper cushioning within equipment can reduce potato bruising Nov. 14 during the Idaho Potato Commission’s Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting. Thornton and UI Extension storage specialist Nora Olsen are helping the commission evaluate the possible causes of fresh potato quality concerns by some customers.

The Idaho Potato Commission is collaborating with researchers, major buyers, growers and shippers to address recent quality concerns about some of the state’s fresh potato shipments. Much of the discussion during IPC’s Nov. 14 Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting, hosted at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Event Center, focused on the need to reduce bruising and other imperfections in fresh shipments. IPC President and CEO Frank Muir explained the commission is partnering with Walmart and a major food service buyer to learn more about the causes of quality problems, in response to an increasing number of customer complaints since the 2015 harvest. Muir said IPC also plans to conduct quality-improvement workshops for growers and shippers, is developing a handbook outlining best practices for handling potatoes and has commissioned University of Idaho potato researchers Nora Olsen and Mike Thornton to study the supply chain and determine causes of damage. More

Video: New Mexico State University researchers conduct field trials of South American potato, papa criolla

Woman in hat holding potato plantNew Mexico State University is collaborating with U.S. Department of Agriculture research geneticist Kathy Haynes to conduct field trials of the South American potato, papa criolla, that she has breed to grow in the United States. White-fleshed potatoes typically grown in the United States are low in carotenoids that act as antioxidants for healthy eyes. The most well-known carotenoid is beta-carotene found in carrots. The carotenoids in the South American papa criolla potatoes, which make the potato yellow-fleshed, are lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent age-related macular degeneration. At least one study has suggested that zeaxanthin also improves mental acuity in elderly people. “Yukon Gold, a yellow-flesh potato that consumers are familiar with, has these carotenoids,” Haynes said. “Comparatively, the papa criolla types have 10-20 times more lutein and zeaxanthin than Yukon Gold.” Watch YouTube video. More information will be presented at the New Mexico Sustainable Agriculture Conference Wednesday, Dec. 13. Also see this press release

Ireland: Is the wild potato the key to less fungicide use on spuds?

potatoScience week in Teagasc Oakpark has opened up students minds to the humble spud and the wild potato continued to come up in conversation. Why? The answer is simply potato blight, as the wild potatoes found in South America are resistant to blight. Some of these potatoes might not be as tasty or suitable for the supermarket, but they have one very important quality – they aren’t susceptible to blight. Oakpark is the home of potato breeding in Ireland and while it has successfully bred many different breeds, potato blight remains the big threat to the industry. Denis Griffin, a Teagasc research officer with Teagasc , stated: “One of the big pressure points for potatoes is still late blight. We have to spray the susceptible varieties 12-15 times. …One of our major goals over the next few years is to try and introduce resistant genes from wild species for late blight and reduce the amount of pesticides we have to use.” More

UK: AHDB Agronomists’ Conference gets more interactive

Ag Conf Banner Top To encourage dialogue on pressing agronomic challenges, the 2017 AHDB Agronomists’ Conference promises to be the most interactive yet. Taking place on 5 to 6 December 2017 at Peterborough Arena, opportunities to discuss new ways of working will be provided and speakers will showcase how research is becoming more connected – from the lab to the field. For the second year running, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds will combine forces with AHDB Potatoes and the full two-day programme is now available from the conference web pages. Due to the shifting nature of plant protection product availability and efficacy, a key debate will be on how to protect chemistry. Building on papers on fungicide efficacy against potato blight on day one, a session entitled ‘fungicide futures’ on day two will explore whether the UK needs to work better together to manage product efficacy. Collaboration on soil health will also be in focus, with papers on the AHDB GREATsoils rotations and soil health partnerships. View the full programme

US: Valuable potato specimens transferred to Wisconsin State Herbarium

David Spooner is a taxonomist in the horticulture department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, charged with traveling the world to gather plant specimens that could be useful to plant breeders and then carefully organizing the plants by their relatedness. At the end of October, Spooner transferred a large collection of potato specimens in the form of pressed plants from the U.S. Potato Genebank in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, to the Wisconsin State Herbarium housed on the UW–Madison campus. The donation is a significant boon for the 1.3 million-specimen herbarium on campus. “What makes the herbarium samples valuable is that they cover the majority of the potato species diversity,” says Spooner. “The purpose of the germplasm collections is to be useful breeding stock to improve disease resistance or agronomic traits like productivity and color.” More

Czech Republic creates tuber for health-conscious purple-potato eaters

 

In October, the the Potato Research Institute in the east-Bohemian city of Havlíčkův Brod in the Czech Republic, introduced the “Val Blue,” a debut 11 years in the making and the first new variety of potato bred at the Institute since 2005. Like most potatoes, Val is fairly unprepossessing at first glance. But inside, its flesh is a rich, royal violet color, which cooks up to a purple shade straight out of a box of Crayolas. The texture is smooth and dense, the flavor earthy and fairly non-distinctive. Rather like a potato, PRI geneticist Jaroslava Domkářová notes with a smile. According to Domkářová, the Val Blue’s vivid purple color is 30 percent more intense than that of its “mother” potato, the PRI-bred “Valfi.” Its trademark hue indicates an antioxidant load surpassing its white- and yellow-flesh relatives two or three times over. According to Domkářová, of the approximately 1,500 varieties of potato grown in the European Union, the Val Blue belongs to a rare cohort. More

Potato diseases: War and peace, Verticillium style

Insights into the complex relationship between potato plants and this pathogen are helping to advance development of resistance cultivars. Verticillium dahliae, a soil-borne fungus, causes wilt, yellowing, necrosis and early dying in potato. This yield-robbing pathogen is tough to manage, has a broad host range, and is known to survive in the soil for up to about five years. Potato cultivars with improved resistance to Verticillium would be a great tool for growers. Now, Canadian research into the complicated interactions between potato plants and this pathogen has come up with a more effective way to select for Verticillium-resistant cultivars. Dr. Helen Tai, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) who is leading this research, Tai and her colleagues have been getting down to the nuts and bolts – the genes and genomics – of exactly what is happening in Verticillium dahliae-induced early dying. “We called this ‘War and Peace’ genetic mapping to represent the two kinds of relationships between the plant and the pathogen.” Overall, her research has the potential to contribute to the development of better tools for growers to manage Verticillium wilt and potato early dying. More

Research: Sequenced potato genomes could speed development of disease-resistant varieties

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. The modern spuds found in today’s kitchens are genetically complex tetraploid potatoes, having four times the regular number of chromosomes. Potatoes’ complex genome harbors an estimated 39,000 genes. (In comparison, the human genome comprises roughly 20,000 genes.) From the large gene pool, researchers identified 2,622 genes that drove the crop’s early improvement when first domesticated. Studying the gene diversity spectrum, from its wild past to its cultivated present, can provide an essential source of untapped adaptive potential, said Robin Buell, Michigan State University Foundation Professor of Plant Biology and senior author of the paper, published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Continue reading

Yellow-fleshed, ‘golden’ potato delivers bounty of vitamins A and E

'Golden' potato delivers bounty of vitamins A and EAn experimental yellow-fleshed, “golden” potato could hold the power to prevent disease and death in developing countries where residents rely heavily upon the starchy food for sustenance, new research suggests. A serving of the yellow-orange lab-engineered potato has the potential to provide as much as 42 percent of a child’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A and 34 percent of a child’s recommended intake of vitamin E, according to a recent study co-led by researchers at The Ohio State University. Women of reproductive age could get 15 percent of their recommended vitamin A and 17 percent of recommended vitamin E from that same 5.3 ounce (150 gram) serving, the researchers concluded. The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE. The golden potato, which is not commercially available, was metabolically engineered in Italy by a team that collaborated with study lead Mark Failla, professor emeritus of human nutrition at Ohio State. More

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-11-golden-potato-bounty-vitamins.html#jCp

UK: Early success for blight-resistant GM potato trial

Scientists inspect potato trial plotsA genetically modified potato variety designed to resist the devastating plant disease blight has successfully come through the first year of trials, say scientists. Worldwide, crop losses because of blight are estimated to be in excess of £3.5bn. However, scientists at The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) on the Norwich Research Park are trialling a Maris Piper potato that has been modified with blight resistance genes from a wild potato relative. “The first year of the Maris Piper trial has worked brilliantly,” said Jonathan Jones, a professor and project leader at TSL. “We’ve observed resistance to late blight in all the lines.” Prof Jones said early results suggested blight-resistant potatoes could be a way to control late blight and remove the need for multiple sprays of agrochemicals. More