Potato Genetics

Work Package 1.2 Potato Genetics

UK potato production is valued at £450 million at the farm gate and the retail value of potatoes in estimated at £3.6 billion. Almost half of Scottish production is of seed potatoes forming the start of the supply chain for ware growers in Scotland and elsewhere.

This work package aims to increase the number of Scottish potato varieties with suitable agronomic and consumer characteristics. This will also help reduce the potential for new pests and pathogens being introduced to Scotland via imported seed and ware potatoes.

It also aims to exploit germplasm collections such as the Commonwealth Potato Collection for the identification of novel genes and traits of potential value to the sector.

Required outputs

  • Characterisation and evaluation of germplasm collections which focuses on plant health improvement, improvement of the environment, sustainable agriculture and market needs including the needs of relevant markets.
  • New resources (improved germplasm, markers, genes, knowledge) which deliver potato products capable of capturing and maintaining market share.
  • Identification of tools (genes, markers, bioinformatics, knowledge) to allow breeders to select crop varieties suitable for future climates in Scotland and elsewhere.
  • Increased emphasis on developing crops with enhanced nutritional quality.
  • Improved understanding of factors contributing towards product quality including the identification of markers for key traits and genes of use to breeders.


Examples for progress towards the outputs in the potato genetics work package include:

  • analysis of DNA data from the Commonwealth Potato Collection clarified the origin of the cultivated potato and will inform better utilisation of the collection
  • one DNA based marker has been identified that may be used to track a gene for late blight resistance in breeding programmes and two for resistance to cyst nematodes
  • determining the genetic variation present in potato for acrylamide production
  • showing that Phureja has higher levels of specific compounds important to flavour, including so called ‘umami’ compounds.

A full report of progress can be found below.