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European project develops potatoes adapted to weather stress

A scientist from the University of Vienna received a grant for 5 million Euros to develop and introduce potato varieties with improved characteristics. Potatoes are one of the most important food crops in the world.

However, a serious threat to the safety of culture is its vulnerability to environmental stress. Due to the combination of heat and drought, such periods are becoming more common due to climate change. These conditions are often followed by seasonal flooding, which can kill the entire crop in a matter of days.

Fruit-inform reports, citing Freshplaza.com that plant biologist Markus Teig from the Faculty of Life Sciences of the University of Vienna received a 5 million Euro grant from the EU Horizon 2020 program to investigate the mechanisms of adaptation of potatoes to numerous environmental stresses.

Markus Teig coordinates a consortium of 17 leading European research institutes, potato breeders, an EU non-profit association, a government agency, and a screening technology developer. The ADAPT project aims to define new breeding targets and match potato varieties to future growth’s specific challenging environmental conditions. The total budget for the next four years is € 5 million from the EU Horizon 2020 program.

“As part of this project, we will investigate the molecular and phenotypic responses to various stress conditions that affect potato yield in the face of climate change. Together with breeders, we will identify traits and genes that can increase stress tolerance in this very important food crop,” says the scientist.

The project’s researchers will combine molecular biology, stress physiology, systems biology, and analytics with engineering and molecular breeding, and will engage end-user-focused agencies to test varieties and trade in potatoes to translate the results into practical applications.

“We strive to define new breeding goals and match potato varieties to specific environmental conditions. The knowledge gained from our research will directly reach the most important stakeholders and end-users,” concluded the scientist.

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