NCCC215: Potato Breeding and Genetics Technical Committee
Statement of Issues and JustificationThe cultivated potato, Solanum tuberosum (2n=4x=48) is the most important vegetable crop and the third most important food crop in the world. The potato is also the highest volume vegetable crop in the North Central Region and accounts for approximately 28% of the US acreage. The farm gate value of the Region's production amounts to $453 million and since a large portion of the production is used in processing facilities, the value added component considerably increases the contribution of the crop to the economy of the North Central Region.
A potato crop produces, on average, more food energy and protein than cereal crops, and the lysine content of potato complements cereal based diets that are deficient in this amino acid. Potato is highly productive on a per acre basis and, because of its adaptability, can be grown commercially all 50 states. In fact, the United States produces 22 million metric tons of potatoes annually on approximately 1.1 million acres, with a farm gate value of greater than $3.2 billion. In addition, the per capita consumption of potatoes (approximately 143 lbs.) in the United States is increasing.
Public breeding is the cornerstone of potato variety development in North America. There exists only one private potato breeding effort in the US and it focuses only on the chip-processing market. NCCC-84 plays an important role in the success of varietal breeding by providing a forum for collaborative research, coordinating regional varietal testing and facilitating the exchange of germplasm and research ideas. The four varietal breeding programs in the North Central region develop varieties for the range of climatic and soil conditions within the region. North Central breeding programs have developed 2 of the 10 leading varieties grown in the US. This regional project also provides an important vehicle for project leaders, graduate students, other researchers and industry representatives to become familiar with leading edge technology, materials and techniques being developed in potato breeding and genetics. Important advances in potato genetics have emerged from this regional effort. Some notable efforts include development of breeding strategies enabling the utilization of the genetic diversity available in the Solanum species; germplasm collection, systematics, preserving and cataloguing; genetic mapping of important traits; integration of transgenic approaches in genetic improvement; and the genetic understanding of numerous resistance and quality traits of potato (i.e. late blight, Verticillium wilt, soft rot, Colorado potato beetle, cold sweetening resistance and specific gravity). The Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project is managed within the North Central region and breeders are utilizing the technologies created by this project to develop high throughput genetic markers for mapping and marker-assisted selection of economically important traits in potato. NCCC-84 also provides the foundation for building strong research relationships within the region that will foster positive collaborative research efforts in the future.
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