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Research into resistances in wild potatoes for new disease-free potato varieties

Research into resistances in wild potatoes for new disease-free potato varieties

05 October 2020
Aarhus University

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) will investigate wild potato varieties for resistance to a wide range of potato diseases and pests.

This broad approach makes breeding material available with which disease-free potato varieties can be developed that contribute to sustainable and circular potato production worldwide. The study is being commissioned by Holland Innovative Potato (HIP) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).

Potato closes cycles

The availability of fertile land and sufficient fresh water in the changing climate are the challenges that we must solve in the coming decades. The potato can play an important role in this because it is a very efficient crop for food and industrial production in terms of water and land use. In addition, the potato is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and nutrients, which contributes to a healthy diet. New breeding and processing techniques have become available in recent years and make the potato an important crop to meet the demand for efficient and sustainable production of high-quality food.

Reducing chemical control

Potato cultivation is constantly threatened by a large number of diseases and pests. Many chemical pesticides are currently being used to meet the current demand for potatoes. In recent years, hard work has been done to combat the major potato disease caused by Phytophthora by developing resistant varieties. As a result, the use of pesticides against this disease will decrease significantly in the coming years. Less chemical crop protection in combination with more extreme temperature and precipitation differences due to climate change, however, will lead to an increase in other diseases and pests.

Resistances in wild potato varieties

These other diseases and pests are caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes and insects, and have so far received little attention. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is going to research wild potato varieties for HIP for resistance to these pathogens. Some useful wild species have already been found in an initial analysis.

These resistant varieties are being further investigated by WUR and will be used by breeding companies affiliated with HIP to develop new varieties. The ultimate ambition is sustainable circular cultivation through the use of disease-free varieties.

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