Biotech Updates

Scientists Develop New Potato Lines to Wage War on Wireworms

September 23, 2011

Wireworms, the slender brownish-orange larva of click beetles are destructive pests of potatoes. Previous studies by United States Department of Agriculture scientists have discovered that two wild potatoes from Chile and Bolivia, Solanum berthaultii and S. etuberosum have broad spectrum resistance to the beetles and green peach aphids.

To see the effects of the resistance genes to the wireworms, scientists crossed germplasm derived from the wild potatoes with a cultivated variety. The 15 top-performing plants from three generations of progeny were selected and were planted in wireworm-infested field plots.

Results published in the Journal of Economic Entomology showed that the resistant clones performed well and in some cases performed better than the insecticide-treated Russet Burbank potatoes. The researchers have also discovered that the natural compounds called glycoalkaloids may be protecting the breeding clones at concentrations not harmful to the consumers.

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