£3m funding for potato and onion research announced

Potatoes and onions are the focus of the first HAPI funding tranche - image:Jun Maegawa
Potatoes and onions are the focus of the first HAPI funding tranche - image:Jun Maegawa

A £3m package to fund four fresh produce research projects has been unveiled by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Scottish Government.

The four each bring together a range of research bodies, levy bodies and companies in the sector. They are:

  • Controlling dormancy and sprouting in potato and onion
    This research will use advances in biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology to identify the genetic basis of dormancy and sprouting in onion and potato with a view to improving storage and reducing losses.
  • Establishing biofumigation as a sustainable pesticide replacement for control of soil-borne pests and pathogens in potato and horticultural crops
    This project will investigate suppression of crop pests by using plants such as mustard which produce chemical deterrents. It will aim to understand exactly how biofumigation works and how it can be exploited most effectively under field conditions.
  • Exploiting next generation sequencing technologies to understand pathogenicity and resistance in Fusarium oxysporum
    The fungus is estimated to cost UK onion growers £11M a year in losses. Using onion lines with increased F. oxysporum resistance, this work will provide information, tools and resources which will lead to more effective and sustainable control.
  • Strategies for integrated deployment of host resistance and fungicides to sustain effective crop protection
    The project will use experimental and modelling approaches to analyse the durability of integrated control strategies using fungicides and resistant cultivars in combination, with particular emphasis on on potato blight.

The grants make up the first round of the BBSRC’s Horticulture and Potato Initiative (HAPI), which aims to bring academics and industry together in order to deliver bigger yields of better quality fruits and vegetables through more sustainable farming practices. The programme will make a second call for research proposals later this year.

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