Biotech Updates

Scientists Develop Root Nematode Resistant Potato

April 24, 2009

The United States Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service (ARS) has developed a new potato line resistant to the Columbia root-knot nematode (CRN), a microscopic worm that has the potential to cause the US potato industry some USD 40 million annually. The nematodes, which thrive in the Pacific Northwest and other major potato growing regions in the US, are usually controlled by applying chemical fumigants. Control of CRN using chemicals is effective, but very expensive. It is estimated that US potato growers spend USD 20 million annually to control the pest.

The CRN resistance trait was obtained from a wild potato relative, Solanum bulbocastanum. But since wild and domesticated potatoes are chromosomally incompatible, that is they can't breed to produce viable offspring, the scientists resorted to protoplast fusion. The researchers fused S. bulbocastanum and domesticated potato cells together and backcrossing was used to remove unwanted traits. Marker genes linked to the RMc1 resistance gene from wild potato were used to determine resistance levels in resulting hybrids.

The new variety will still undergo field-testing for two years before it can be commercialized.

Read the complete news article at