Developing stress tolerant potatoes

Nearly 5 million for potato project

Plant biologist Rashmi Sasidharan has received an EU grant to study the stress tolerance of potato. The project Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato (ADAPT) is one of the so called Horizon2020 projects. In total a sum of nearly 5 million euro was awarded to the ADAPT project, in which several institutions and potato breeders will collaborate. “We are developing new strategies to make potatoes fit for the challenging growth conditions of the future.”

Potato plant (iStock)

Potato is one of the most important food crops worldwide.  However a major threat to yield security for this staple food crop is its vulnerability to environmental stresses particularly to heat and drought combinations, and flooding. While there is some knowledge of how plants respond to multiple stresses in model plant species such as Arabidopsis, parallel knowledge in potato is lacking. In this research program, led by Dr. Markus Teige at the University of Vienna, the complementary  expertise of 10 leading academic research institutions, 4 potato breeders and a screening technology developer will come together to investigate mechanisms underlying multi-stress resilience in potato.

We will identify traits and genes that can enhance stress resilience in this very important food crop

Within the ADAPT project, plant scientist Rashmi Sasidharan from Utrecht University will lead the investigations into the potato response to flooding. “Potato plants and tubers are extremely sensitive to flooded (waterlogged) soils, conditions that also increase their vulnerability to disease. With this project we will determine the molecular and phenotypical responses to flooding stress in potato and how wet conditions affect tuberization. We will identify traits and genes that can enhance stress resilience in this very important food crop”, Sasidharan explains.

The researchers will combine molecular biology, stress physiology, systems biology and analytics with engineering and molecular breeding and include end-user driven agencies for variety testing and potato trading to translate findings. “Arising from our mechanistic understanding we aim to identify new breeding targets and matching potato   varieties to specific environmental conditions. Knowledge from our research will directly reach the most relevant stakeholders and end-users feeding into breeding programmes and guiding technology development for improved crop management strategies.”

More information
Website ADAPT project