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Two Blades Partners With Sainsbury Laboratory, JR Simplot on Potato Disease Resistance

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Two Blades Foundation today announced that it has formed a research partnership with the Sainsbury Laboratory and ag-bio firm JR Simplot to develop potato varieties with increased resistance to oomycete and bacterial diseases.

Oomycete diseases are fungal infections that include late blight, the disease responsible for the Irish Potato Famine and one that still causes significant yield losses today. Bacterial diseases such as bacterial wilt and soft rot, meanwhile, threaten potato plants in the field and stored potatoes. 

2Blades and its collaborators will investigate new sources of late blight resistance previously identified at the Sainsbury Laboratory. They will also work to identify new disease-resistance genes that can be incorporated into next-generation versions of Simplot's Innate potatoes, which are modified to resist common North American strains of late blight.

The partners will also test the ability of EFR, a broad-spectrum immune receptor that recognizes bacteria, to protect potatoes from a variety of bacterial diseases. Researchers at the Sainsbury Laboratory have demonstrated that the gene can confer bacterial infection resistance in tomato, tobacco, wheat, and other crops.

"The partnership with 2Blades and the Sainsbury Laboratory combines some of the most promising technology to combat devastating diseases with the popular commercial varieties of potatoes," Craig Richael, director of R&D at Simplot Plant Sciences, said in a statement.