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Taking the next step for hardier potatoes

EU-backed researchers begin a new round of tests to see how selected potato varieties respond to different environmental stresses.

Food and Natural Resources

Since its launch in 2020, the EU-funded ADAPT project has been working on strategies to make potato crops fit for the challenging growth conditions created by our changing climate. Looking at how different potato varieties respond to environmental conditions such as heat, drought and flooding, the project has sought to identify new breeding targets and match potato varieties to these environmental conditions. Over the past 2 years, ADAPT has conducted field trials with a wide range of selected varieties in Spain, the Netherlands and Austria. As the project enters its final phase, it will begin a new round of automated high-throughput phenotyping (assessment of the varieties’ physical traits) with only two potato varieties, Desirée and Lady Rosetta, selected from the previous field trials. This work will be carried out at the facilities of Czech screening technology developer and ADAPT project partner Photon Systems Instruments. The researchers will grow tissue-cultured plantlets of the two selected varieties on soil under strictly controlled environmental conditions.

The effects of heat, drought and waterlogging

Earlier greenhouse trials conducted as part of the project showed contrasting levels of tolerance to heat and drought – the two stresses studied in ADAPT – as well as to waterlogging. These contrasts were observed when assessing each stress individually, but also in combination with the other two stresses that paints a more realistic picture given climate change, as noted in an ADAPT news item. “In the first phase we improved the experimental setup, for instance regarding the intensity and duration of stress treatments and best time for sampling. Based on the data obtained so far, we can now look into these processes in two contrasting potato varieties in great detail and combine the automated phenotyping with a detailed analysis of morphological and physiological responses to different stresses,” the project team reports. “Furthermore, the biochemical and molecular changes in response to single and combined stresses will be also measured and analysed at the network level to understand how potato plants acclimate to these stresses and why some varieties do better than other ones.” Plant samples will be collected at critical points in time during the experiment. Then they will be analysed by different consortium members. ADAPT project coordinator University of Vienna and German project partner University of Erlangen-Nuremberg will study the changes in the plants’ proteome and metabolome. Czech partner Palacký University Olomouc will measure the plant phytohormones and Slovenian partner National Institute of Biology (NIB) will monitor the changes in gene expression. All this data will be combined and used to update the stress response models built by the NIB team using earlier data. The data gathered to date has been compiled in the Stress Knowledge Map created by the NIB researchers as part of ADAPT (Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato). For more information, please see: ADAPT project website


ADAPT, potato, crop, Desirée, Lady Rosetta, phenotyping, environmental stresses

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