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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Gene Transfer Research
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1 - Gene Transfer Main
2 - Specialty Potato Updates
3 - CRN Symptoms
Gene Transfer Main

Chuck Brown, PI
Richard Quick
Nadav Nizan
Hassan Mojtahedi
Linhai Zhang

Diseases - NEW

The purpose of this portion of the Potato CRIS is to identify new genetic variation, define genetic parameters surrounding this and to deploy it into breeding populations. This means literally finding new disease and pest resistance for a series of biotic factors that cause the potato industry to incur significant cost to control. Among these are the Columbia root-knot nematode, corky ringspot disease incited by the transmission of tobacco rattle virus by the stubby root nematode.

Both problems are treated by soil fumigation costing $350 per acre. Potatoes are attacked by two viruses that are transmitted by aphids. These are potato virus Y and potato leafroll virus. Currently the potato industry in the Northwest spends $100 million yearly to control these diseases. A fifth problem is powdery scab, a tuber-blemishing fungus. Powdery scab has appeared in the Northwest in the last decade and spreads rapidly into new fields every year. A sixth problem is the fungal disease Black Dot.  This an emerging disease which acts to shorten the lifespan of the crop.  A such it is a part of the early die complex and is often the most important factor in the early die syndrome.  Powdery Scab and Black Dot usually occur together and attack the root systems of the potato plants.

At present, no known means of controlling powdery scab either by fungicidal treatment or soil fumigation has been successful. The best hope is to develop resistance. In all these cases germplasm is being developed to address these problems through conventional breeding. All means available are being used including mapping the location of genes using molecular markers.

Potatoes incorporating these traits are re-distributed as parents to other breeding programs and the outstanding clones are submitted to the Tri-State Potato Variety Development Program for regional yield trials.


The second area of study concerns the development of high antioxidant and high iron available potatoes. Potatoes have several classes of pigments that can produce red, purple, yellow and orange pigments colors. All of these pigments are natural components of the genetic variation that are found in potato in its center of origin, the Andes of South America. The genes controlling these pigments are now present in commercially viable cultivar types for North America.  Research in the genetic control of carotenoid content has provided the molecular tools to predict how much carotenoid will be in a potato.  With these markers we have created a new long day adapted ultra high carotenoid potato breeding population at the tetraploid level.  Previously this trait was only present in a poorly adapted diploid population imported from South America.

New Varieties with high phytonutrients and disease resistance


Two high phytonutrient varieties have released through the Tri-State Program,  “Purple Pelisse,” and “AmaRosa.”  Both have deeply pigmented flesh, purple and red, respectively.  Both have high antioxidant values.  They are suitable for the finglerling fresh market. In addition, “Yukon Nugget,” a Yukon Gold type potato with better representation in the smaller tuber sizes, higher total yield, and darker yellow flesh. A recent release is “Chinook,”

The interest in potatoes with enhanced nutrition is extremely high. Processors are exploring new product concepts while fresh markets have a very high unsatisfied demand for these potatoes. It is likely that profitability of these so-called “specialty” potatoes will be very high.

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Last Modified: 4/2/2012
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