P.E.I. Researcher Identifying Genes Related to Potato Scabbing

Published online: Jan 12, 2021 Articles
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Source: Journal Pioneer

A Prince Edward Island-based researcher is unlocking the genetic makeup of potatoes in an effort to develop a variety that is resistant to common scab disease.

Bourlaye Fofana, a molecular biologist and research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Harrington Research Farm, recently completed comparative gene expression profiling between two potato varieties: Green Mountain, which regularly develops scabs; and Hindenburg, which tends to develop fewer scabs. Through 814 different genetic lines of potatoes grown at the research farm, a set of 273 different genes were identified that are believed to differentiated the two.

The goal of the research is that someday it will help potato producers breed a variety that is resistant to common scab disease as well as other issues, such as drought conditions and potato greening.

"The research revealed that the common scab resistant variety, Hindenburg, has developed an ability to sense and prepare itself against common scab disease attacks over time as an immune priming mechanism," said Fofana in a press release.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada estimates that common scab disease costs producers $17 million in potato food waste a year.

"The work conducted by Dr. Fofana will introduce more precise screening tools that will help us identify resistance clones earlier in the breeding cycle," added David De Koeyer, AAFC scientist and potato breeder.

Fofana has been with AAFC on P.E.I. since 2008, and researching potatoes since 2014.