National Potato Breeding Program: Strategic Trait Development
Potatoes are the fourth-largest food crop internationally, and account for 20% of all vegetable production in Australia. Unfortunately, the current main Australian commercial cultivars suffer from a number of production and quality issues, which this project has investigated. The techniques developed in this project will change the way potato breeding is conducted. This project has investigated the rapidly advancing area of molecular genetic technologies. As a result of reviewing the publicly available resources, undertaking economic cost comparisons between alternatives and through establishing significant international links with the leading research groups, the project has validated and implemented DNA markers, and opened significant opportunities to develop improved potato cultivars for Australia. These efforts have enabled this Australian research program to become internationally recognised, within a very short period. We have developed a greater understanding of potato genetics, which provides understanding of the biology and how to control two major problems the Australian industry has had over recent years, potato cyst nematodes (PCN) and Potato virus Y (PVY). By understanding resistance and the resistance mechanisms controlling PCN and PVY we can now provide answers for all members of the industry to aid in their control. We have also adapted a genetic analysis technique used in livestock breeding that could be widely applied to potato research, producing significant advances. This technique could also be widely applied to other horticultural research in Australia, and we expect that it will be adopted globally.