Somatic hybrids between Solanum bulbocastanum and potato: a new source of resistance to late blight
Solanum bulbocastanum, a wild, diploid (2n=2x=24) Mexican species, is highly resistant to Phytophthora infestans, the fungus that causes late blight of potato. However this 1 EBN species is virtually impossible to cross directly with potato. PEG-mediated fusion of leaf cells of S. bulbocastanum PI 245310 and the tetraploid potato line S. tuberosum PI 203900 (2n=4x=48) yielded hexaploid (2n= 6x=72) somatic hybrids that retained the high resistance of the S. bulbocastanum parent. RFLP and RAPD analyses confirmed the hybridity of the materials. Four of the somatic hybrids were crossed with potato cultivars Katahdin or Atlantic. The BC1 progeny segregated for resistance to the US8 genotype (A-2 mating type) of P. Infestans. Resistant BC1 lines crossed with susceptible cultivars again yielded populations that segregated for resistance to the fungus. In a 1996 field-plot in Wisconsin, to which no fungicide was applied, two of the BC1 lines, from two different somatic hybrids, yielded 1.36 and 1.32 kg/plant under a severe late-blight epidemic. In contrast, under these same conditions the cultivar Russet Burbank yielded only 0.86 kg/plant. These results indicate that effective resistance to the late-blight fungus in a sexually incompatible Solanum species can be transferred into potato breeding lines by somatic hybridization and that this resistance can then be further transmitted into potato breeding lines by sexual crossing.