Researchers trace the potato’s origins, learn about its untapped potential

IMAGEThe comfort food we know and love today as the potato was domesticated between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago from a wild species native to the Andes Mountains in southern Peru. During the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors are believed to have transported the rugged root-like vegetable across the Atlantic. Now, a team of researchers has charted this lineage in order to learn how the potato was domesticated and how its DNA evolved over time. Richard Veilleux, head of the Department of Horticulture in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and his graduate student, Parker Laimbeer, partnered with colleagues at Michigan State University to conduct a plant genome project. “The results increase our understanding of how the potato was domesticated and what genes are important. We also identified potential genes to improve on in the future and showed how high throughput genome sequencing provides new tools,” Veilleux said. More

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

Swiss study finds staggering losses of the potato supply from ‘field to fork’

Over 50% of the potato harvest is lost from field to fork, and losses occur in the entire chain, from producers and processing wholesalers, to retailers and consumers. This is the conclusion of a Swiss study by Agroscope and ETH Zurich. Optimization of potato cultivation and consumer behavioral change is said to be the solution. The figures are staggering: 53% of the conventionally produced potatoes are lost, and 55% of the organically produced potatoes. The figures for processing potatoes are slightly lower: of the organic potatoes 41% is wasted and 46% of the conventionally produced potatoes. The difference with conventionally produced potatoes is due to the overproduction, this rarely happens with organic potatoes. The study looked at the production chain in Switzerland. More

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

UK: “Potato Lono” fertilizer promises major yield uplift

Potato Lono promises major yield upliftLevity CropScience has unveiled new research claiming its product Potato Lono can increase potato yields by up to $1,000 per hectare. The UK-based business said that independent three-year field trials held in England, Ireland, the Netherlands and France had proven the uplift in yields. The company announced the results at the British Potato Show in Harrogate. “We’re excited to have revealed this groundbreaking data” said joint MD David Marks. “Our hard work has paid off and now growers around the world will be able to benefit from this research and our innovative application of this knowledge into unrivalled, pioneering fertiliser products.” Lono for Potato is described by the company as “a smart fertiliser that focuses the plants growth on tubers, by supplying nitrogen in a form that encourages reproductive growth. Lono hold nitrogen in the amine form, and also contains calcium and important micronutrients. Applied in low doses through the season Lono lifts tuber numbers and improves grading, skin finish and quality.” More

New report: Global Potato Chips Market 2017-2021

Image result for potato chipsAccording to the authors of Global Potato Chips Market 2017-2021 report, consumers across the globe tend to purchase potato chips more than any other snacks, as they are ready-to-eat and filling. And increasing snacking by consumers has also helped the market growth over the years. Hence, the potato chip category is more relevant than ever in terms of snacks. The analysts forecast the global potato chips market to grow at a CAGR of 4.58% during the period 2017-2021. The report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the global potato chips market for 2017-2021. The report was prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. It covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market. More

How Frito-Lay is making its products healthier

Indian Tikka Masala, Yorkshire Pudding and Salmon Teriyaki Lay's potato chips“Somebody was telling me the other day that we have over 3,000 flavors in what we call our flavor bank,” said Christine J. Cioffe, Ph.D., senior vice-president, Sustainability and Global Snacks R.&D. at PepsiCo, Inc., parent company of Frito-Lay. “I think it speaks to the power of a company that operates across 200-plus countries.” Flavor, Dr. Cioffe said, is a “stronghold” for Frito-Lay. “It’s definitely a capability that R.&D. has built and strengthened over the last decade or so,” she added. “Flavor is going to continue to be an opportunity.” Meanwhile, the product development team at PepsiCo is focused on making its snacks healthier. The company has committed to limiting sodium and saturated fat while adding whole grains, vegetables and protein, said Elizabeth Roark, registered dietitian and principal scientist, PepsiCo Nutrition Services. In its Performance with Purpose 2025 Agenda PepsiCo outlined its nutrition goals. 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

Report: Asia-Pacific Processed Potatoes Market

Related imageAsia-Pacific Processed Potatoes Market 2017 Research report contains a qualified and comprehensive analysis of the processed potato market. The report provides an overview of the current processed potato business scenario along with an evaluation of the processed potato industry. Geographically, the report split Asia-Pacific into several key Regions (Southeast Asia, Australia, India, Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan), with revenues, sales, market share and growth rate of Processed Potatoes for these regions. The Processed Potatoes market research report also explores the available markets throughout Asia-Pacific regions from 2017 to 2022 (forecast). The report provides a research study of the Processed Potatoes market based on development opportunities, growth limiting factors and feasibility of investment. 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

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

Production of potatoes for consumption in the Netherlands up 27 percent, exceeds 4 million tonnes

Production of potatoes for consumption in the Netherlands up 27 percent, exceeds 4 million tonnesStatistics Netherlands (CBS) published its latest update of the potato harvest of 2017 in the Netherlands. Total production of potatoes for consumption for the first time since 2000 exceeded 4 million tonnes, an increase of 27 percent compared to 2016. Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS) estimates the total production of potatoes for consumption – this excludes seed potatoes and potatoes grown for use in the potato starch industry – at just over 4 million tonnes (4.012 million tonnes). This is an increase of 27 percent compared to harvest 2016, when 3.16 million ton of potatoes for consumption was produced. The jump in production compared to last year looks much less dramatic when seen in a multi-year sequence, since last year represented the lowest production of potatoes for consumption in a decade. More