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

US: USDA grant to boost potato breeding research

US Senators Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine say the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $388,000 to the University of Maine to study ways to improve quality and pest resistance of potatoes. The money will be used to study potato breeding with a goal of increasing productivity and profitability for farms large and small. The senators say the University of Maine will serve as the lead on an eastern potato breeding project focused on developing attractive, productive, disease- and insect-resistant potato varieties. Collins and King say the funding will “build on our strong agricultural traditions so we can make Maine potato products more economically resilient.” (Source: Associated Press)

Netherlands: Agrico claims “double the yield with resistant organic potato varieties”

“Within three years, we want to fill at least half of our planted area with resistant potatoes,” says Peter Dijk on behalf of Agrico. The potato breeding company from Emmeloord, the Netherlands, currently grows organic consumption potatoes on a total of 500 hectares. “Potato varieties resistant to the potato disease Phytophthora are growing on an ever-increasing surface.” Regarding yields, Agrico is very satisfied about these varieties: “If the fungus shows up early in the season, it doesn’t make much difference if there’s a resistant or non-resistant variety on the field. If the fungus shows up late in the season, the resistant variety scores very high so far. With resistant varieties, we even realise a double yield sometimes. …We have to realise a more acceptable price level for resistant organic potatoes. A higher yield is necessary for that. We have the resistant varieties, but now growers have to start profiting from them.” More

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

Greenvale invests in new organic varieties

Greenvale invests in new organic varietiesGreenvale is investing heavily in new organic potato varieties as it looks to address a shortage in reliable, high-yielding organic potatoes. The producer and breeder, which claims to be the UK’s largest supplier of fresh organic potatoes, wants to support retailers as they try to grow this area of the market. It is looking to develop more hardy varieties than the Dutch and German potatoes currently on offer, which, according to technical and seed director Paul Coleman, “don’t produce a very big plant”. “Organics only account for about three to four per cent of potato sales at the moment,” he said. “It’s not a very big market and effectively it’s almost a service to the retailers to support all the other things we do. The supermarkets want an organic offering so you’ve got to be able to provide that. You’re not going to get rich on organics – in fact, you’re probably going to lose money – but it’s part of the overall range and you don’t make money across the whole piece.” More

US: Potandon launches CarbSmart yellow potatoes

Image result for carbsmart potato potandonIdaho-based Potandon Produce introduced its low-carbohydrate CarbSmart potato at Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit show in October, said Ralph Schwartz, vice president of sales.The new item is part of Potandon’s promotional focus on potatoes as healthy items, Schwartz said. It’s the first of many that will come out that have additional health benefits,” he said of CarbSmart. The product has 55% fewer carbohydrates than rice or pasta, Schwartz said. When you look at this potato, it has 7 grams less carbs per serving than a regular yellow potato. We’ve been testing it for years. It’s exciting.” 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

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

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

UK: GM potato trial showing positive signs of blight resistance at Sainsbury Laboratory

The Sainsbury Laboratory is trialling a genetically-modified potato designed to be resistant to blight. Pictured are Prof Jonathan Jones (front) with his team, Dr Marina Pais (centre) and Dr Kamil Witek (back). Picture: The Sainsbury Laboratory.A genetically-modified (GM) potato designed to resist late blight has worked “brilliantly” during the first year of field trials, according to Norwich scientists. The field trial conducted by The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) on the Norwich Research Park involves incorporating three blight-resistant genes from a wild potato relative into the popular commercial variety Maris Piper. After the first year of the field trial, scientists observed a marked improvement in late blight resistance, with a stark difference in health between the resistant and non-resistant plants. Prof Jonathan Jones, who is leading the project, said the initial results offered hope that there could be a way of controlling late blight without the need for chemical fungicide sprays. More

US fresh produce company unveils its first low-carb potato

Potandon Produce has released a new CarbSmart potato, developed with lower carbohydrate levels. Officials say the product is an example of new choices in the fresh category helping to strengthen fresh-potato sales. Potandon Produce has released a new potato variety making a counter-intuitive marketing claim for a starchy vegetable. Officials say the product is an example of new choices in the fresh category helping to strengthen fresh potato sales. The Idaho Falls-based company unveiled its first low-carbohydrate potato Oct. 19 during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention in New Orleans. Potandon boasts its CarbSmart potato has 55 percent fewer carbohydrates than rice or pasta. Ralph Schwartz, the company’s vice president of sales, marketing and innovation, believes the product will continue a recent trend of convenient, colorful and innovative specialty products strengthening sales in the long-stagnant fresh potato category. “We’ve been working on it for several years,” Schwartz said, explaining this is the pilot for what could become a broader line of potatoes bred for specific health attributes. More

Pre-cut Agria chips gaining popularity in Belgium

In Wuustwezel, Flanders, the chip processing company De Coster works with potatoes. A large part of their assortment is focused on the chips industry. Both whole potatoes and pre-cut fresh chips are processed by the Belgian company. For the chips, the potato processing company practically always uses the same potatoes. “We mostly use Bintje or Agria,” says Sofie de Coster from the company of the same name. “We’ve noticed Agria chips potatoes have become more popular in recent years. This is due to the more constant frying quality of this potato compared to that of Bintje. This variety turns brown much quicker, although nothing compared to Bintje’s flavour. Agria is a bit drier and easier to fry because of that.” Besides, there’s another reason Agria is gaining popularity, according to Sofie. “In the Netherlands, chef Sergio Herman opened a number of chips shops in which only Agria is used,” she says. More