Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Late blight-resistant potato to help Russian farmers

07.08.2002


Cornell University potato breeders are donating a disease-resistant potato to Russia in an effort to help combat aggressive strains of potato late blight that are threatening to devastate the nation’s essential small farms.



The Cornell-developed New York 121 potato, which also is able to fend off golden nematodes, scab and potato virus Y (PVY), will be given to Dokagene Technologies, a company specializing in producing pathogen-free seed in Russia, in a meeting and a field trip in Moscow on Aug. 20.

Dokagene will begin multiplying the potato seed, and the company hopes that it will have enough to begin commercial distribution in Russia within three or four growing seasons.


"Potato seed can become contaminated with viruses and other soil-borne pathogens," says K. V. Raman, professor of plant breeding and executive director of the Cornell Eastern Europe Mexico (CEEM) program. "Over the next few years, Dokagene will propagate the potato seed, while Cornell expertise will act as a scientific backstop to ensure the availability of healthy seed."

During their visit to Moscow, Cornell scientists will develop seed-multiplication procedures with Dokagene researchers. Also, they will review existing late blight projects and establish a plan for integrated late blight disease management involving a consortium of scientists from the European Union, Eastern Europe and the United States.

"After China, Russia is the second largest producer of potatoes in the world. It is considered the second bread for many parts of Russia. A severe late blight problem could put millions of people in harm’s way, and such a horrible problem could possibly destabilize the region," says Ronnie Coffmann, Cornell professor of plant breeding.

Dokagene, a subsidiary of Troika Potato International of Elkton, Md., and Prince Edward Island, Canada, will recoup the expense of development, packaging, distribution and research by charging Russian market rates for the seed. An additional advantage for Russian farmers in growing the New York 121 variety is that the potato does not require pesticides or fertilizers.

During their visit to Russia, the Cornell group will visit the Dokagene propagation facilities near Moscow and farmers whose crops are grown on small plots called kitchen gardens.

These small farmers annually grow 3.4 million hectares (8.4 million acres) of potatoes with an average yield of 10 tons per hectare. Annual Russian potato production is between 34 million and 39 million tons .

New strains of the devastating fungus-like disease called Phytopthora infestans, or late blight, are far more aggressive than their ancestors that triggered the Irish potato famine of the 1840s. Due to commercial transportation, involving both imports and exports of potatoes, the disease has evolved through sexual mating. Unlike the old strains, the new pathogen can survive harsh winters in the soil, further endangering crops.

Because of a drought-caused potato shortage in 1976, the former Soviet Union and the nations of Eastern Europe inadvertently imported the disease in shipments of 25,000 tons of potatoes from Mexico, where the late blight pathogen originated. Beginning in the 1980s, Western Europe successfully battled the pathogen with integrated pest management measures, which included the selective use of fungicides, says William E. Fry, Cornell professor of plant pathology. Russia’s troubled economy makes pesticides unaffordable for the nation’s myriad small farms.

The story of the late blight pathogen is complex. The two mating types of the organism, A-1 and A-2, are both short-lived on their own. The Irish potato famine was caused only by A-1, which had escaped from Mexico. After the famine, the A-1 continued to be the only strain found outside Mexico, according to Fry. "Sexual reproduction didn’t occur then because partner mating types were found only in Mexico," he says.

When potato tubers from Mexico arrived in Europe and the Soviet Union in 1976, some contained the A-2 strain, permitting A1 and A2 organisms to reproduce sexually and create oospores, the resting state of the pathogen. The pathogens proliferate freely and survive in the soil despite harsh winter conditions. When warm and moist summers arrive, they attack the potatoes and destroy the harvest. These spores reproduce and adapt other characteristics.

In the growing seasons between 1990 and 2000, the St. Petersburg region of Russia saw seven blight years, the Moscow region saw five and Siberia saw three. The federation’s Sakhalin Island, north of Hokkaido, Japan, saw blighted potato harvests every year in the 1990s.

CEEM scientists believe that the New York 121 and other varieties form the foundation for fighting late blight. The development of New York 121 dates back more than 30 years when Robert Plaisted, Cornell professor emeritus of plant breeding, acquired seeds of potato varieties grown in the Andes mountains of South America. Repeated selection for adaptation to the New York region and for disease resistance produced the E74-7, the mother of NY 121. This variety was important because of its extreme resistance to potato mosaic viruses.

In 1984 Plaisted obtained seeds, from the International Potato Center in Peru that had resistance to multiple races of the golden nematode, a soil-borne pest. One generation of breeding produced N43-288, the male parent of New York 121. This parent is mostly of Peruvian ancestry, but includes a wild species from Argentina.

By breeding the E74-7 with the N43-288 about 11 years ago, Plaisted developed a potato with multiple resistance. Typically it takes 14 years to bring a newly tested and developed potato to market, but New York 121 took less than a decade. This mid-season potato fits well with Russian needs since it is good for both boiling and baking.

Dokagene will import a total of 11 other new potato varieties into Russia, seven of which were bred at Cornell. They include:

o Reba---- A mid-season variety bred for both the potato-chip market and table use. It is resistant to the golden nematode and moderately resistant to early blight, verticillium wilt and scab.

o Salem ---- A mid-season potato with high-yielding ability, bred for table stock. It is resistant to the golden nematode and scab.

o Keuka Gold ---- A yellow-flesh potato, good for boiling, flavor and high yields. It is resistant to scab and golden nematodes.

o Eva ---- A bright-white-skin potato, good for boiling. It is resistant to the mosaic virus, golden nematode and scab, and can be stored for a long time.

o Pike ---- A round potato with a buff skin, good for making potato chips. It is resistant to golden nematode and scab.

o New York 128 ---- A white, round potato for chipping. This offspring of New York 121 is resistant to the golden nematode and late blight.

CEEM’s work in Eastern Europe is funded by the Atlantic Philanthropic Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, and the International Science and Technology Center.

Blaine Friedlander Jr. | EurekAlert!

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>