New research into potato late blight

A new method to accelerate isolation of plant disease resistance genes has been developed by a team of scientists, who have also identified a brand new source of blight resistance genes in Solanum americanum, a wild relative of the potato.

The scientists from The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) and The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) pioneered the new technique, called "SMRT RenSeq," and believe it will significantly reduce the time it takes to define new resistance genes.

Professor Jonathan Jones and colleagues from his lab at TSL plan to stack several resistance genes together in one plant, to make it much harder for pathogens to evolve to overcome the plant's defences. It is hoped the deployment of this new technique will improve commercial crops and will lead to higher yields, significantly reduced environmental impact and lower costs for the producer and eventually the consumer.

Potato late blight remains a major threat to potato and tomato production, with world-wide crop losses estimated to be in excess of £3.5 billion. Prevention measures and crop losses cost UK potato farmers around £55 million a year, and on farm blight management can account for as much as half of the total cost of potato production.

To read more about how the technique works, please click here.


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