A consortium of scientists worldwide have joined forces to sequence the genome of the potato, pooling their resources and expertise, working to crack the genetic code of the world's number one non-grain food commodity, at a time of surging population growth and high food prices.
The Netherlands-based Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium (PGSC) includes scientists from 13 countries, such as New Zealand, Russia, India and Peru who are decoding different pieces of the genome.
The consortium plans to elucidate the complete DNA sequence of the potato genome - and complete the project by 2010 at which time it will make its findings public so plant breeders can create new disease resistant seeds, to reduce pesticide use.
Christian Bachem, PGSC coordinator told Potato Processing the consortium is interested in improving quality for nutrition and processing as well as basic biology of potato tuber formation. Once the white potato genome is sequenced, researchers say it will become easier to identify genes in native and wild species of potatoes, which come in 5,000 varieties.
"We'll be able to design seeds more effectively and more efficiently after we know precisely which genes do what," said Gisella Orjeda, a biology professor at the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima who runs a lab that is sequencing one of the chromosomes.