The genes and genomes of the potato

During the last decade, genomics research has generated new insights into potato genetics and made possible new strategies for varietal improvement. The most commonly grown and eaten potato is an autotetraploid, highly heterozygote crop suffering from rapid inbreeding depression. The genetic improvement of the potato presents numerous challenges using conventional tetraploid breeding techniques. However, novel breeding technologies are now available to increase precision and gains for varietal improvement. The public availability of the first potato genome sequence has created new ways to identify the genetic determinants of key traits of the potato as well as ways to use this knowledge for speeding up variety development. Genomic selection applied to tetraploid breeding promises to increase prediction of progeny performance by a more efficient selection of parents. Diploid hybrid breeding is finally making its way two decades after discovering a suppressor gene of the self-incompatibility locus of diploid potatoes. Direct gene transfer into existing varieties of major genes for key traits has been successful but biotech potato development has been constrained by public perception and issues related to the regulation of the technology. Although genome or gene editing is still in its primary stage in potato, it has already been successful in modifying gene expression in a controlled way, and it might face a lower regulatory burden and easier adoption than biotech, transgenic potatoes. Concluding on an optimistic note, we have many reasons, and evidence is starting to mount, that potato crop improvement is finally benefiting from decades of investment in molecular genetics and that the future hold the promises of faster releases of more robust varieties to pest, disease, and climatic extremes, as well as nutritionally enhanced varieties to feed an ever-growing world population.

Citation: Ghislain M.; Douches D.S. 2020. The genes and genomes of the potato.. In: Campos H., Ortiz O. (eds) The Potato Crop. Its agricultural, nutritional and social contribution to humankind. Cham (Switzerland). Springer, Cham. ISBN: 978-3-030-28683-5. pp. 139-162.