Biotech Potatoes in the 21st Century: 20 Years Since the First Biotech Potato

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Abstract or Summary

Potato is the world’s most important vegetable crop, with nearly 400 million tons produced worldwide every year, lending to stability in food supply and socioeconomic impact. In general, potato is an intensively managed crop, requiring irrigation, fertilization, and frequent pesticide applications in order to obtain the highest yields possible. Important traits are easy to find in wild relatives of potato, but their introduction using traditional breeding can take 15–20 years. This is due to sexual incompatibility between some wild and cultivated species, a desire to remove undesirable wild species traits from adapted germplasm, and difficulty in identifying broadly applicable molecular markers. Fortunately, potato is amenable to propagation via tissue culture and it is relatively easy to introduce new traits using currently available biotech transformation techniques. For these reasons, potato is arguably the crop that can benefit most by modern biotechnology. The benefits of biotech potato, such as limited gene flow to conventionally grown crops and weedy relatives, the opportunity for significant productivity and nutritional quality gains, and reductions in production cost and environmental impact, have the potential to influence the marketability of newly developed varieties. In this review we will discuss current and past efforts to develop biotech potato varieties, traits that could be impacted, and the potential effects that biotech potato could have on the industry.


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