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Northwest Potato Research Consortium has awarded grants for 37 regional potato projects

Northwest Potato Research Consortium has awarded grants for 37 regional potato projects

Oregon State University researchers Markus Kleber and David Myrold were awarded about $80,000 from the consortium for the initial year of a two year soil focused project. They believe soil holds the secret to raising healthy potato crops without using fumigation.

The Northwest Potato Research Consortium recently approved a combined $1.5 million in grant funding to 37 research projects.

The consortium, formed in 2012, is funded with $650,000 each from the Idaho and Washington potato commissions and $200,000 from the Oregon Potato Commission to support regional potato research.

Andy Jensen, who manages the consortium, said researchers were invited to present potential projects to the consortium during an October meeting in Boise, where 51 projects were approved to be re-submitted as full proposals.

Potato Breeding Program

The consortium awarded $362,000 toward the cooperative potato breeding program — slightly less than last year because University of Idaho storage researcher Yi Wang, who was involved in the effort, has accepted a job at the University of Wisconsin.

Growing healthy potato crops without fumigation

Oregon State University researchers Markus Kleber and David Myrold were awarded about $80,000 from the consortium for the initial year of a two year soil focused project.

They believe soil holds the secret to raising healthy potato crops without using fumigation.

Kleber, an associate professor of soil and environmental geochemistry, and Myrold, a soil microbiology professor, will commence this summer with a two-year research project to test their theory.

The researchers will take several soil samples from regional fields, both from growers experiencing little trouble with verticillium wilt and from growers with widespread infections. They aim to identify the microbial communities and traits of healthy soil that help potato plants withstand verticillium wilt — which causes the early death of plants — and make recommendations to help growers achieve optimal soil conditions.

Kleber said earlier research in Idaho demonstrated a significant reduction in verticillium wilt in fields in which plants had been raised solely for soil health benefits as cover crops, or tilled into soil as “green manure.”

Markus Kleber:

“The key to this seems to be to make sure the microbial community is really diverse.”

“We now need to understand what are the other factors that use the diversity of the microbial community, and we want to know that for realistic conditions.”
OSU will cover tuition for graduate student Larisa LaMere, who will conduct field and laboratory work.

Can potato consumption relieve inflammatory bowel disease?

Washington State University food science associate professor Meijun Zhu received about $20,000 toward another project of note, investigating how consuming potatoes might relieve inflammatory bowel disease symptoms.

Zhu said the study — involving mice with chemically induced stomach irritation — is entering its second year, and mice fed a diet of purple potatoes have experienced statistically significant health improvements. In the future, Zhu hopes to also study white potatoes, and to characterize the molecular mechanisms responsible for potato-related health benefits.

Meijun Zhu:

“This is a longterm interest.”

“I’m looking into the dietary end of gut health.”

Potato Cyst Nematodes Research

The consortium also awarded $134,000 to UI’s pale cyst nematode program, which is assisting in efforts to eradicate the quarantined pest in a small region of Eastern Idaho.

Funds will go toward research on so-called trap crops, which stimulate hatching in the absence of a viable host, and on understanding how PCN interacts with potato plants on a molecular level.
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The Oregon State University (OSU) and its extension service devote a significant amount of effort to potato research, in areas such as variety development, Crop Management, Weed Control, Disease Control and Insect Control.
The mission of University of Idaho Extension is to improve the lives of Idahoans by providing research-based education and information that help our citizens solve problems. The University of Idaho Extension is involved in a range of activities related to the potato crop.
University in the State of Washington (United States)