Research to be carried out into ‘mutant’ potatoes
NewsTuesday 09 July 2013
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council - BBSRC - is going to fund a £382,000 project to study genetic mutations in potatoes. This research could lead to improved varieties of one of the world’s most important foods.
The potato is the world’s third most important food crop after wheat and rice, and by 2020 it is estimated that over two billion people worldwide will depend on potatoes for food, feed, or income.
Despite its importance, the genetic study of the potato has lagged behind many other plant crops.
The three-year project will develop the first ever ‘library’ of potato mutants, which will be able to be used as a resource for more research. The library will also be used to help develop agriculturally valuable strains.
The development of mutants with desirable traits can be a useful tool for crop scientists who are looking to breed those characteristics into a plant population.
Dr Glenn Bryan from the James Hutton Institute in Dundee, Scotland, will lead the project.
He said: “Potato, despite its global importance as a crop, has never been subjected to the same types of mutational analysis as models and other crop plants. By making a library of mutants and using the genome sequence we can make great progress in understanding potato traits.
Dr Bryan added: “This is a very exciting time. We have some nice preliminary data but the grant allows us to do this on a much larger scale and I am excited to see our first mutant panel being developed in the near future. This should lead to several new collaborative links.”