Research
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The potato is host to a plethora of pathogens and pests, which individually and as complexes, can cause severe reductions in the yield and quality of the crop. The same holds true for abiotic stresses such as drought, low and high temperatures. At the same time, potato genotypes may be rich of metabolites of high nutritional value. In our laboratory a number of projects are aimed at improving potato for environmental stress, resistance and quality traits through integrated conventional and genomic approaches. Main sources of resistance are species such as S. commersonii, S. bulbocastanum, S. multidissectum, S. phureja as well as genotypes of S. tuberosum. Toward long-term genetic improvement of cultivated potato and in collaboration with Prof. Jim Bradeen from the University of Minnesota (USA), we are developing an integrated system of R gene physical and genetic maps for the genus Solanum using the disease resistant diploid species S. commersonii as a model and DArT (Diversity Array Technology) as technology. Moreover, we are currently sequence the whole genome of the most interesting resistance potato wild relatives through a NGS-based approach. After genotyping and phenotyping, identified resistance genotypes are used in breeding schemes to produce hybrids for further characterization and use. 

We are also involved in the molecular and functional analysis of an1 MYB gene involved in anthocyanin production. Anthocyanins are of great interest for their beneficial effects on plant physiological processes and defence mechanisms as well as for human health. It has been demonstrated that anthocyanin accumulation is generally controlled at the transcriptional level, by a sub-group of MYB transcription factor. Plant MYBs represent a large gene family whose members have many different functions: metabolic and enzymatic pathways regulation (including the anthocyanin pathway), development, signal transduction and disease resistance. We are currently studying different an1 MYB alleles structure and expression profile using various potato genotypes.

Our efforts will result in expandable, communal resources allowing rapid mapping of noteworthy genes, development of markers for marker aided selection, and identification of candidate genes for subsequent isolation.

 

1 Structural genomics of wild potato species based on DArT alignments (abstract & poster) web manager