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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Charles Raymond. Brown (Chuck)

Research Geneticist (Plants)


Potato Germplasm Enhancement through Trait Discovery, Genetic Evaluation and Incorporation

  • My goal as a crop geneticist is to provide access to all the genetic diversity available to create new varieties with new traits.  My working plan is to pick out outstanding problems that have great economic impact on the industry.  The introduction of genetic variation that addresses the nematode caused problems of Corky Ringspot disease and Columbia root-knot nematode is motivated by the high cost of soil fumigation that is used to solve these problems.  The industry must search for ways to lower costs while maintaining productivity and quality.  Similarly viruses and late blight often require large investments in pesticides and fungicides to stave damage to the crop.  Host resistance can go a long way to mitigate those problems as they give the grower mores options to reduce or eliminated pesticide costs by using lower cost alternatives or reducing the amount or frequency of pesticide use. 
  • The potato has the potential of being a substantial source of antioxidants for the human diet.  Naturally occurring variation in the contents of anthocyanins and carotenoids can be selected to produce high levels with accompanying high expression of antioxidant capacity.  Antioxidants have been associated with reduced levels of certain cancers, heart disease and macular degeneration.  One of the most common carotenoids in the human retina, lutein, is abundant in potato.  Potatoes rich in naturally occurring antioxidants can give rise to new products and niches in the economy that grower, and processor can take advantage of.  The consumer will benefit by increased uptake of antioxidants through factory processed and home-prepared potato dishes.
  • There is a vast array of genetic diversity available in the naturally evolved wild relatives, primitive cultivars, and advanced selections in modern breeding programs.
  • This variation is accessible through various techniques ranging from traditional, straightforward breeding and selection to specialized methods of combining sexually isolated forms, and also including utilization of molecular methods to elucidate the actual structure of genes and to provide markers that accelerate the breeders task of incorporation. 

Last Modified: 3/12/2008
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