NewsIndustryNew Genetic Tool May Help Breeders Develop Disease-Resilient Potatoes

    New Genetic Tool May Help Breeders Develop Disease-Resilient Potatoes


    An improved technique for capturing DNA in crops may give plant breeders huge advantages when it comes to developing varieties that are more resilient to pests and diseases. The technique, known as diagnostic resistance gene enrichment sequencing (dRenSeq), enables the high-confidence identification and complete sequence validation of functional resistance genes.

    More robust and cost-effective than whole-genome sequencing in potato cultivars, dRenSeq is the product of an international collaboration between the James Hutton Institute, Wageningen University (Netherlands), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Simplot Plant Sciences (United States) and builds on years of plant genetics research that was jointly developed between the James Hutton Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory.

    Each plant typically carries hundreds of potential resistance gene sequences, encoding NB-LRR proteins, which are often part of families of closely related sequences. Using dRenSeq technology, known functional NB-LRRs effective against viruses, nematodes and the late blight pathogen, Phytophthora infestans, can be identified and tracked for the first time amongst a background of highly similar yet non-functional genes.

    “Our method provides a way to improve the speed and efficiency of future disease resistance breeding in crops by directing parental and progeny selection towards effective combinations of resistance genes,” said Ingo Hein, a crop scientist based at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee and developer of dRenSeq.

    “These genes, if introgressed into new varieties via breeding, could significantly reduce the dependency on pesticides for crop production.”

    The paper Tracking Disease Resistance Deployment in Potato Breeding By Enrichment Sequencing is published in Plant Biotechnology Journal.

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