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Nurse Crops in Potato Production

As with any field crop, young potato plants face many threats. Erosion, wind, drought and competition from weeds are a few of the factors that can impede the plants’ optimal growth. This is why a team at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in the Maritimes has been looking into nurse crops — what they describe as fast-growing companion crops planted during the potato-growing season that help draw water to root systems, provide…

New Tool to Detect Blackleg Disease in Potato has Widespread Application

The American Phytopathological Society Potatoes are important. They rank fourth among the world’s staple crops. In the United States, they are grown commercially in 30 states and valued at $4 billion annually. Potatoes are also susceptible to 160 different fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases, such as blackleg and soft rot diseases, which are caused by the bacterium Dickeya dianthicola. In 2015, an aggressive outbreak of this bacterium led to losses of greater than…

GM Potato Trials Point to Blight-Resistant Crops of the Future

A genetically modified potato with improved tuber quality and resistance to the devastating disease late blight has progressed successfully through the latest stage of trials. The field trials follow successful lab experiments to modify Maris Piper potatoes with late blight resistance genes from wild relatives of potato called Solanum americanum and Solanum venturii. To improve tuber quality, the modified Maris Piper lines also have genes switched off – or “silenced” – to…

Potato Virus Y is the Most Serious Threat to Potato — Some Strains More than Others

By American Phytopathological Society Potato virus Y (PVY) is the most serious problem facing the potato industry in the United States and is the main cause for rejection of seed potato lots. The virus affects potatoes in two ways: It reduces the yield of potato tubers by 70-80% and also negatively affects the quality of the remaining tubers due to necrotic reactions. PVY encompasses a complex network of strains with a range…

Saving EU’s Competitiveness: Why CRISPR is so Incredibly Necessary

Cultivated potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a tough nut to crack in terms of plant breeding. It is a tetraploid crop, which means it has four sets of chromosomes and it is largely a heterozygous crop, which makes potato research and breeding through traditional crossbreeding a huge challenge. But help is on the way: by specific applications of genome editing, one or a few traits can be added to a commercial potato variety,…

Microbial Marauder of Potato, Tomato Crops Has an Accomplice

By Jan Suszkiw, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA ARS WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA, November 5, 2019—Descendants of the fungus-like pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s—Phytophthora infestans—may have had a “helping hand” in recent U.S. outbreaks of the costly blight disease. Reporting in the September 2019 issue of Virus Research, a team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Cornell University (CU) and Rutgers University scientists announced they had identified a virus that infects P. infestans and appears to increase the pathogen’s…

Potato as Effective as carbohydrate gels for boosting athletic performance study finds

By University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign News Bureau Consuming potato puree during prolonged exercise works just as well as a commercial carbohydrate gel in sustaining blood glucose levels and boosting performance in trained athletes, scientists report. “Research has shown that ingesting concentrated carbohydrate gels during prolonged exercise promotes carbohydrate availability during exercise and improves exercise performance,” said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Nicholas Burd, who led the research. “Our…

Driving Out Blight With Dual Control

Combining methods of disease control rather than relying on a single resistance strategy can extend the durability of crops by many years, confirms computer modelling that draws on classical population genetics theory. The finding comes from assessing the spread and virulence of the pathogen responsible for late blight of potato, Phytophthora infestans. The pathogen, which caused the Great Irish Famine in the mid-nineteenth century and led to the new science of plant…

Better Sooner Than Later

Late blight is a deadly disease that requires integrated management, including foliar fungicides as a key tool. Usually potato growers make repeated preventive applications of broad-spectrum fungicides starting before row closure, and then use late blight-specific fungicides if the disease is found in their fields. Now studies in Ontario and the Maritimes are working on easy-to-use technologies for early detection of late blight that could allow more targeted fungicide strategies. Late blight…

Complex Potato Genome Further Unveiled

The potato is one of the most important food crops worldwide. Improvements to its traits can therefore have a major impact. Reading the genome structure of the potato is extremely tricky, however, as a regular potato consists of four genomes, which makes it difficult to determine the position of the genes. The recent research applied a diploid real potato plant with only one genome, a so-called homozygote, which makes it easier to read and compare the DNA base sequence. This plant, Solyntus, was produced as part of Solynta’s hybrid potato breeding programme.   The genome…

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