For the first time, researchers from the Ludwig Maximilian University in
Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in
Cologne have completely decoded the highly complex genome of the potato.
The researchers, led by geneticist Korbinian Schneeberger from the Max
Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research have now succeeded in
assembling the first complete genome of the potato, a breakthrough that
paves the way for breeding new and robust varieties. "Potatoes are
increasingly becoming part of basic nutrition around the world," says
Schneeberger. He added that even in Asian countries like China where
rice is the traditional staple, the potato is gaining ground. This study
can now support genome-based breeding of new potato varieties that are
more productive and resilient to climate change, which has a huge impact
on global food security for decades to come.
The potato has low diversity and anyone who buys potatoes today is very
likely to go home with a variety that was around more than 100 years
ago. Low diversity has always made potato plants susceptible to
diseases, as evident during the Irish famine in the 1840s. Likewise,
reconstructing the potato genome was a far greater technical challenge
than the human genome because the potato inherits two copies of each
chromosome from each parent. Four copies of each chromosome mean four
copies of each gene, which makes creating new varieties with the desired
combination of individual traits very difficult and time-consuming.
Schneeberger and colleague Hequan Sun and other employees circumvented
this problem by not using the DNA taken from the leaf tissue as usual
but analyzing the genomes of individual pollen cells. Unlike other
cells, each pollen cell contains only two copies of each chromosome,
making it easier to reconstruct the genome. With the new information,
researchers can now easily identify gene variants that are responsible
for desired traits.
Kartoffel-Genom entschl??sselt | MPI f??r Pflanzenz??chtungsforschung