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Potato Research


Potato Genetic Improvement for Western U.S. Production


The primary objective of this research project is the development and release of potato varieties and germplasm with improved disease and pest resistances, enhanced processing and nutritional characteristics, and a reduced need for production inputs such as water and nitrogen. Research focuses on the development of potato varieties important for the irrigated production of the western U.S., with an emphasis on varieties with long tubers and russet skin-the predominate market class grown in this region for French fry production and for fresh consumption as baking potatoes. The targets for resistance breeding will be the major diseases and pests that detrimentally impact potato production in the western United States, as well as newly emerging pest and disease threats.  Several of the diseases and pests that plague western potato production are problematic for all U.S. potato producers. Therefore, potato germplasm and varieties with enhanced resistance originating from our program also will benefit potato producers outside the western United States. Desired traits will be acquired from wild relatives of cultivated potato and from improved germplasm developed by other potato breeding programs worldwide. Parental material will be hybridized with potato breeding clones and varieties adapted to the irrigated environments of the western U.S. Progenies will be evaluated systematically, and superior individuals selected and advanced for release as potato varieties. Marker-assisted selection protocols will also be devised to facilitate selection for resistance to viruses and cyst nematodes. Characterization of foliar and tuber responses of potato varieties to infection by newly-identified strains of Potato virus Y and the identification of new sources of resistance will also be conducted to address this increasingly problematic potato pathogen.