Applied Biotechnology to Combat Late Blight in Potato Caused by Phytophthora Infestans
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Potato is an important crop, grown worldwide. It suffers from many pests and diseases among which late blight, caused by the oomycete Phytophthora infestans, is the worst. The disease is still causing major damage in many potato production areas and control is only possible by applying fungicides frequently. The knowledge on the molecular biology and genetics of the interaction between the plant and the oomycete is developing rapidly. These are relevant fields of study, currently dominated by the discovery of many resistance genes and numerous effector proteins and the analysis of their specific mode of action. These studies may yield essential information needed for the development of durable resistance. The long-term and worldwide effort to breed for resistance so far has had little effect. A novel breeding approach may change this. It is based on cisgenic modification (CM) consisting of marker-free pyramiding of several resistance genes and their spatial and temporal deployment yielding dynamic varieties that contain potato genes only. It is envisioned that this CM approach with potato’s own genes will not only prove societally acceptable but may also result in simplifications in the legislation on use of the CM approach. Various parties in the potato research arena intend to cooperate in this novel approach in a number of developing countries where potato substantially contributes to food security. The use of resources such as land, water and energy improves when the effect of late blight is markedly reduced.
KeywordsBreeding strategy Cisgenesis Effectors Late blight Phytophthora infestans R genes Resistance management Solanum
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