Breeding to battle potato late blight disease in Uganda: What once took 46 years, now takes just a few with biotechnology

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Farmer Bone-Konsira Tumwesigye holds some potatoes in her hands. To get a good harvest, she must spray her field with fungicides on a weekly basis, a labor intensive, time consuming and expensive undertaking. Credit: CIP
Farmer Bone-Konsira Tumwesigye holds some potatoes in her hands. To get a good harvest, she must spray her field with fungicides on a weekly basis, a labor intensive, time consuming and expensive undertaking. Credit: CIP

[A new variety of] potato— named 3R potato— could help protect farming families… in Uganda and possibly elsewhere in Africa from losing their crops to blight—and without requiring expensive and potentially hazardous fungicides to be effective.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Because there are three genes from potato relatives, biotechnology was found to be the most efficient way to transfer them into existing varieties grown by farmers to achieve resistance to potato blight. Breeders could have used traditional techniques to breed or ‘cross’ the potato relative with a domestic potato to develop a new, disease-resistant variety as they did for one gene after 46 years of efforts. But it is nearly impossible to have three of these genes together in one variety using conventional breeding methods.

“The time needed to develop a blight-resistant potato by breeding is simply far too long if the goal is to protect farmers and consumers in Uganda….Their harvests are being ruined and the threat is spreading rapidly. And every year that passes without a solution to late blight is another year of stagnating incomes and increased risk of hunger and malnutrition”, noted Research Scientist Abel Arinaitwe.

Read the original post

Outbreak Featured
Infographic: Autoimmune diseases — 76 identified so far — tend to target women over men. Here is a master list

Infographic: Autoimmune diseases — 76 identified so far — tend to target women over men. Here is a master list

There are many autoimmune diseases, and taken together they affect as much as 4.5 percent of the world’s population. This ...
Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
glp menu logo outlined

Get news on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.