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 Buscador de Noticias
Norte Am. 01/03/2024

Canada: A blueprint for a better potato

Scientists have created a super pangenome that can be used to help breed more nutritious, disease-resistant and “climate-smart” potatoes.

Martina Strömvik and her research team assembled the genome sequences of nearly 300 varieties of potatoes and their wild relatives. Photo: Courtesy Al

Scientists from McGill University in Montreal have created a super pangenome of potato, which plant breeders can use to produce potatoes that are more nutritious, disease-free and climate resilient. 

“We work with breeders in Canada and also internationally who have been working with reference genomes for many, many years, and are interested in specific traits.” 

According to Strömvik, these traits include producing “a future climate-smart potato” that’s better equipped to deal with dramatic weather events associated with climate change. She notes traits that reduce potato losses due to climate events as well as disease would increase food security for many nations. 

Strömvik says another possible beneficial trait relates to sustainability; specifically, reducing commercial potato production’s reliance on nitrogen fertilizer. 

That’s something she’s been investigating along with one of her collaborators, Helen Tai, who co-authored the potato super pangenome research paper. Tai is a potato genetics and genome research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Fredericton, N.B. 

Strömvik says she has participated in Tai’s studies analyzing nitrogen response genes in potato for the purpose of developing a more focused approach to fertilizer applications — for example, by applying nitrogen when it’s most needed and provides the greatest benefit to the crop. 

“That’s something that’s very important,” she says. 

The research paper on the potato super pangenome can be found on the PNAS website.


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