Solynta's fast hybrid potato breeding program one of the three nominees for the 2012 Food Valley Award.
Potatoes are the world's third most important food crop after rice and wheat. They are significantly more efficient in their use of water and nutrients. Potatoes are not only a source of carbohydrates, but also of fibre, potassium and vitamin C.
The genetic variation in wild varieties of potatoes provides plenty of opportunities for breeding for higher yields, Phytophthora resistance and for products that are attuned to the needs of the processing industry. However, existing potato breeding methods are not efficient; breeding a new variety takes five to ten years, while introgression of a trait from a wild species may take up to 50 years.
Solynta's patented hybrid breeding method will change this. Using homozygous diploid inbred lines makes it easier and faster to include desirable traits and eliminate undesirable ones. It may only take two years to introduce a new trait into an existing cultivar. Another novelty is that potato seed rather than tubers are used as plant reproduction material. This makes reproduction faster and cheaper.
"We have shown that hybrid breeding, which has been used for years in tomatoes and bell peppers, also works for potatoes. We expect to bring a commercial hybrid to market in 2015," says Pim Lindhout, head of Research & Development at Solynta.
The two other nominations for the 2012 Food Valley Award are Cropwatch's Scoutbox, a tool for efficient control of greenhouse pests and Hoogesteger's freshly squeezed fruit juices with a three-week shelf life.
The three nominations excel in innovativeness, economic feasibility and cooperation. This year's winner will be announced at the Food Valley Expo on October 25 in the Netherlands.