Spudman February 2023 - 38

The future of diploid potatoes
A new movement
is happening in the
potato industry:
simplifying the potato
genome.
Growers around
POTATOES USA
Alyssa Green
Research
Communications
the country have
experienced
the effects of
unpredictable
weather, which
impacts production
and profitability, and
consumers continually
shift their wants, requiring changes from
potato processors. These uncontrollable
factors explain why breeding is important.
The industry has a team of 11 individuals
from seven institutions and USDA's
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) dedicated
to increasing the likelihood of genetic
improvement through a project known as
Potato 2.0, as well as education about diploids
to increase the likelihood of grower adoption.
Genetics are largely responsible for
the breeding difficulties associated with
potatoes. While many crops hold two copies
of chromosomes, potatoes astoundingly
contain four copies,
disrupting what most
people know and
understand about
the fundamentals of
genetics. The additional
set of chromosomes
leads to slow,
meticulous breeding
practices. To simplify
the breeding process,
a team of researchers
has been studying the
genetic processes of
moving from tetraploids
(four chromosomes)
to diploids (two
chromosomes) and are
making significant progress.
In the first four years, the team geared
up for and executed a trial with diploid
potatoes to measure, evaluate and optimize
the process. In the fifth and final year of the
project, the team will continue to develop a
breeding system that is responsive to grower
and market needs, while putting effort
into market traits to
compete with traditional
tetraploid lines.
Diploid potatoes are
not a novel concept.
China and Europe
have engaged in their
own diploid potato
experiments. With
environmental changes,
it's universally understood
that optimizing control
in the breeding process
must happen.
Growers will
experience additional
benefits from genetically
simplified potatoes,
such as disease resistance and other
quality traits. Moving from four to two
chromosomes increases the probability of
desired varieties and ultimately improves
profitability for growers and processors.
For example, genes have been identified
that contribute strong, multi-strain
resistance to late blight. Breeding for these
genes could result in greater potential for
durable late blight resistance.
While there are many reasons to be
excited about the evolution of potato
breeding, skepticism exists surrounding
diploid potatoes. Growers have expressed
fear of introducing diploids to their fields
and harvesting tubers that look, feel and
process strangely. However, the team has
conducted experiments with seasoned
potato growers. The growers were given
multiple tubers and asked to determine
which tuber was the diploid variety. To
the participants' surprise, most were
unable to identify the diploid. In addition
to disrupting misconceptions about the
appearance of diploids, the team is also
interested in providing education on the
consistency of growing and harvesting
between tetraploids and diploids - such
as not needing additional or alternative
harvest equipment.
Challenging misconceptions is always
difficult, but this does not deter the team
from making diploids a reality.
Scan the QR code to learn more about
the project and the team.
38
Spudman * February 2023
https://coloradocertifiedpotatogrowers.com/

Spudman February 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Spudman February 2023

Spudman February 2023 - 1
Spudman February 2023 - 2
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