Use of a self-compatible diploid potato for mutagenesis and forward genetic studies

Lead Research Organisation: Earlham Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED


The publication of the full potato (S. tuberosum) genome sequence, including some 39,000 annotated genes, heralds a new era for the study of potato genetics and breeding. It is extremely important to build on new genomic resources and use them to gain a better understanding of potato traits, especially those that impact on crop productivity and quality, as well as resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Tools for investigating gene function in potato are sorely lacking, and currently potato scientists have few options other than to modify gene expression transgenically and look for altered phenotypes. Despite the recent advances in potato genomics, potato trait genetics lags behind that of model plants and other crops due to a paucity of ‘discontinuous’ variation due to mutation. This is a somewhat paradoxical state of affairs as potato, an autotetraploid outbreeder, contains extremely high levels of sequence variability.

This project aims to use an inbred diploid species S. verrucosum, a tuber-bearing relative of the cultivated potato with which it is inter-fertile, to develop such mutant germplasm, with a particular focus on traits relating to tuberization and plant development, about which virtually nothing is known. A further goal is to utilise a novel next generation sequencing approach to identify genes corresponding to previously identified mutant phenotypes. To assist this process a high quality draft genome sequence of the wild type S. verrucosum genotype will be obtained. This activity is further justified by the very high levels of late blight resistance present in S. verrucosum, its self-compatibility and its current use as the recurrent parent in a set of crosses aimed at generating introgression lines (ILs) for potato. This project would also pave the way for developing a TILLING resource which could be used to dissect traits affecting disease resistance, crop yield and quality.


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