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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Improving the quality of stored potato tubers by exploration of natural biodiversity and functional analysis of candidate genes


The management of potato tuber dormancy is of great importance for all sectors of the potato industry. As the innate dormancy period of potato tubers is generally less than the storage period required by the market place, measures must be taken to control sprouting after innate tuber dormancy. Current methods include the use of chemical sprout suppressants and low temperature storage. Neither of these control methods are attractive to the consumer as there are concerns about the use of chemicals and low temperature storage can impact on tuber quality. Additionally, both methods attract extra costs for the industry and consumer. The objective of this proposal is to use a multidisciplinary approach to test recently developed hypotheses for the control of potato tuber dormancy.

The effects of specific biosynthetic inhibitors on potato tuber dormancy will be assessed. An association genetics approach will be used to identify alleles that may be associated with dormancy from segregating potato populations. Micro-array experiments will be carried out on tubers in which the dormancy characteristics have been altered transgenically. The micro-array analysis will identify candidate genes that may be involved in the control of tuber dormancy. The function of candidate genes will be tested further using a rapid gene silencing approach based on the use of viral vectors.

The project will thus serve as a high level training vehicle in which an important economic problem is addressed. The multi-disciplinary nature of the project will provide the researcher with a range of skills in areas such as allele mining, use of micro-arrays, use of viral vectors as well as a specific package of management training that will equip the researcher to gain professional maturity and at the same time develop inter-European research links.

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