NCCC084: 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 fourth most important staple 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 cereals, and the lysine content of potato complements cereal based diets that are deficient in this amino acid. It is highly productive on a per acre basis and, because of its adaptability, can be grown commercially in any of the 50 states. In fact, the United States produces 19 million metric tons of potatoes annually on approximately 1.1 million acres, with a farm gate value of greater than $2.76 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 this company breeds only for the chip-processing market. NCCC-84 plays an important role in the success of varietal breeding by providing a forum for collaborative research efforts and regional varietal testing, and by 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. The North Central breeding programs have developed 5 of the 10 leading varieties grown in the US. This regional project also provides an important vehicle for project leaders, graduate students, and industry representatives to become familiar with leading edge technology, materials and techniques being developed in potato breeding and genetics research programs. 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, preservation 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. resistance to late blight, Verticillium wilt, soft rot, Colorado potato beetle, and cold sweetening resistance). NCCC-84 also provides the foundation for building strong research relationships within the region that will foster positive collaborative research efforts in the future. This project is unique in the country in that it provides a forum for potato researchers to carry out an annual focused discussion of potato genetics research plans and progress. The project reaches beyond the North Central region by encouraging participation of researchers across the U.S. and Canada.
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