A wild way to beat the pests

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WAGENINGEN University & Research (WUR), in the Netherlands, is carrying out research into resistances in wild potatoes to a wide range of potato diseases and pests.

The study is being commissioned by Holland Innovative Potato (HIP) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV). It is geared towards an approach that makes breeding material available in which disease-free potato varieties can be developed that contribute to sustainable and circular potato production worldwide. 

A lot of work has been done in recent years to combat the major potato disease caused by Phytophthora by developing resistant varieties. As a result, the use of pesticides against this disease will decrease significantly in the coming years. However, less chemical crop protection, combined with more extreme temperature and precipitation differences as a result of to climate change, are likely to lead to an increase in other diseases and pests caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes and insects. 
WUR is going to research wild potato varieties for HIP for resistance to these pathogens. Some useful wild species have already been found in an initial analysis.

These resistant varieties are being further investigated by WUR and will be used by breeding companies affiliated with HIP to develop new varieties. The ultimate ambition is sustainable circular cultivation through the use of disease-free varieties.