A group of researchers were able to create the first full assembly of a potato genome marking a turning point for plant breeding, a March 3 news release says.
Potato breeding has been difficult in the past as potatoes inherit two copies of each chromosome from each parent, meaning they have four copies of each chromosome (tetraploid). By having four copies of each chromosome there’s four copies of each gene, making it a challenge to generate new varieties with the desired combination of individual properties, the release notes.
A group of researchers led by Korbinian Schneeberger were able to sequence the DNA of large numbers of individual pollen cells. Compared to all other cells, pollen cells contain only two random copies of each chromosome. The release says by doing this it reduced the complexity allowing for the sequence of the entire genome to be reconstructed.
“Building on this work, we can now implement genome-assisted breeding of new potato varieties that will be more productive and also resistant to climate change – this could have a huge impact on delivering food security in the decades to come,” Schneeberger says in the release.
The overview of the complete DNA sequence of cultivated potato has the potential of greatly facilitating breeding, the release notes. Scientists will now be able to identify more gene variants responsible for desirable or undesirable traits — a first step towards incorporating or excluding them during breeding.