As concerns soar over world food cost hikes, the future of the Friday night chippie could be secured, thanks to new research into the humble potato by scientists at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and international partners. Through Scottish expertise in plant sciences, the global food trade could be positively impacted.
Potatoes are typically propagated by cloning, but the Holy Grail for potato cultivation has been the creation of a cultivar that can be generated by seed. True seed potatoes – also known as diploid potatoes – will need fewer pesticides and be more adaptive to the world’s changing needs.
While diploid potatoes already exist, they are not yet commercially viable as they simply do not produce high enough yields to be worth cultivating. Scientists, including Dr Tiina Sarkinen, Tropical Biodiversity Scientist specialising in the Solanaceae family at RBGE, have been keen to get to the root of the problem: “Speeding up true potato seed breeding is a key priority. Having a better true potato seed available would reduce diseases that plague the potato industry simply because most pathogens are not seed borne”.