Dutch researcher discovers new mode of potato blight resistance

Blight-resistant and non-resistant potatoes in trials - image: Wageningen University
Blight-resistant and non-resistant potatoes in trials - image: Wageningen University

A plant pathologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands has discovered a new mechanism that increases the resistance of potatoes to late blight (Phytophthora infestans).

Dr Klaas Bouwmeester discovered that the protein LecRK-I.9 had a role in disease prevention in the model plant Arabidopsis. He transplanted the protein into potatoes, which then showed increased resistance to P. infestans.

This approach is unusual in that it operates on the outside of the plant cell. Previous efforts to identify resistance mechanisms have aimed to help potatoes identify and repel intruding organisms within the cell. Phytophthora mutates rapidly and can therefore avoid being recognized, Bouwmeester explained.

His work will now look at combining this new kind of resistance with existing resistance proteins in the plant cell, he added. "In that way, we create two lines of defence against Phytophthora."


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