Researchers are working on a climate-resistant and disease-resistant potato

04 September 2023

Researchers from McGill University (Canada) have created a comprehensive genetic database called a ‘super pangenome’ for various potato species, aiming to identify genetic traits that can enhance their resilience and nutritional quality. This extensive genetic database could aid in developing disease-resistant and climate-adaptive potatoes, benefiting global food security.

A genome is an organism’s complete set of genetic instructions known as the DNA sequence, while a pangenome aims to capture the complete genetic diversity within a species, and a super pangenome also includes multiple species.

The researchers analysed data from gene banks in Canada, the US, and Peru, incorporating genome sequences from 296 potato varieties and 60 wild species. This extensive dataset could lead to the creation of a super spud for a new generation of potatoes, potentially through traditional breeding or gene editing.

Wild potato species offer valuable genetic diversity that cultivated varieties lack. The study also explores the evolution of the potato and its genetic traits. This research aligns with broader efforts to map crop genomes for improved breeding and disease resistance.