Controlling important diseases in potato by cloning functional NB-LRR-type resistance genes

Lead Research Organisation: Earlham Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED


Potato is one of the world's most important food crops, and production is threatened by several pests and pathogens such as late blight, soil-dwelling cyst nematodes, and a number of bacteria and viruses. It is calculated that global potato production could increase by up to a third if the diseases that reduce yields could be controlled. The most promising route for combating crop pests and diseases is by deployment of naturally-occurring plant resistance genes. In plants, including potato, disease resistance is typically controlled by resistance genes, known as 'R genes' that have a recognizable structure. Recently a new method, called RenSeq, takes advantage of the conserved structure to capture R gene containing DNA fragments from the full genome and sequence them. Using this technique we can now sequence the R genes (which represent only about 0.25% of the DNA in the potato genome) from any Solanum species in an efficient and cost effective manner.

The main aims of this project are to combine genetics, RenSeq , and improved sequencing technologies to determine the R genes within Solanum species that convey resistance against potato pathogens. By combining expertise from multiple institutes (JHI, TSL, UoD and TGAC) with the breeding company SimPlot we hope to develop new resistant cultivars.

1. We will improve the RenSeq method using longer sequence reads to more accurately discriminate between closely related R genes.
2. Identify R genes that appear to convey resistance to P. infestans (late blight), potato cyst nematode, and potato virus Y.
3. Confirm candidate R genes function and devise markers for breeding.
4. Test and combine R genes in individual cultivars for the UK and US markets.


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