Tom Schermer

Despite potato being the third food crop in the world, relatively little is known regarding the development of the underground stem-like structures at the tip of which potato tubers form: stolons. We are interested in understanding the initiation and early development of stolons in true potato seed-grown plants and how these processes are controlled by the environment. Our aim is to optimize potato shoot/stolon architecture for efficient resource acquisition and carbon allocation to tuber formation versus seed production by elucidating molecular mechanisms of shoot and stolon architectural plasticity in response to light spectrum, photoperiod and temperature. To this end the objectives are:

  • To explore the possibility to influence stolon initiation and subsequent development by temperature, light spectrum, and photoperiod.
  • To investigate the genetic basis of the underlying regulatory pathways related to objective (i).
  • To develop plant ideotypes and associated lighting strategies for vertical farming aiming at energy-efficient production of tubers or fruits.

Approaches include quantitative genetics, physiology and gene editing.