Novel breeding strategies and tools

Part of the SolACE project aims to develop novel breeding strategies and tools to better adapt crops to combined water and nutrient stresses. The project will develop general strategies that can be exploited in any other condition of combined stresses.

Two of the specific objectives aim to identify genetic factors that contribute to adaptation or tolerance to combined stresses. These objectives are:

  • Identify genetic associations between markers, below-, and above-ground traits for yield adaptation to combined stresses
  • Develop a genomic selection strategy for breeding adaptations to combined stresses

Over the past months, activities to identify markers and a breeding strategy for drought and other stresses have been conducted. Genetic material containing Solanum phureja accessions have been made available to Solynta from the James Hutton Institute. Based on earlier work done by the James Hutton Institute, it is known that these contain drought tolerance traits. Several crosses between diploid Solanum tuberosum and the Solanum phureja have been made and segregation populations have been developed.

To achieve both objectives, well characterized testing methods to identify tolerant genotypes are needed. These methods to test the stress tolerance have been developed (see pictures) and are of key importance to identify genetic factors. At present, the stress testing is being calibrated further and a standard protocol will be defined, by applying stress at different phenological stages of the plants. Results are expected by mid-2018. In the second half of 2018, a large experiment to identify individuals from segregation populations is planned.