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EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 35 properties remain the same. That is a real advantage when compared with traditional plant breeding. This is precisely why the Belgians want to use cisgenesis to create a Phytophthora resistant Bintje. Bintje is a popular French fry potato in Flanders but this variety is highly susceptible to Phytophthora. Three Flemish institutionsGhent University the life sciences research institute VIB and the agricultural institute ILVOwant to change that. In 2011 and 2012 we got some experi- ence through field trials in Wetteren using plants from the DuRPh project says Ren Custers from VIB. I think DuRPh has really got the ball rolling that project is at the basis of everything that is possible at present. We now have the resistance genes the knowledge and the means to make Bintje resistant for the long term. We dont need to go looking for new resist- ance genes we can build on the research done in Wageningen. If everything goes according to plan the first field trials of the upgraded variant of Bintje will take place in 2017 or 2018 says Custers who studied Molecular Sciences in Wageningen. We want to create a Bintje with a few effective combinations of resistance genes. This will be followed by a development process with field trials and then there will have to be a commercialisation process started by a potato breeding company. People in Flanders are also waiting anxiously for the decision by the European Commission on cisgenesis. Custers Even if cisgenic potatoes continue to be covered by the existing rules it is debatable whether the same battery of safety tests will have to be carried out for these potatoes as is required for many transgenic crops. I hope that this will prompt a new debate because Phytophthora- resistant potatoes are a very important prod- uct. Resistant varieties can also be obtained using traditional methods but these still need to prove their worth. And they will not have a combination of multiple resistance genes which makes it more difficult for them to retain their resistance in the long term. The Sainsbury Laboratory in Britain which published an article last summer together with Wageningen UR researchers about the discovery of a new resistance gene has also started a project to make an existing potato variety resistant to Phytophthora using cisgenesis. The technology is now sufficiently advanced that both Belgium and Britain will be able to launch a resistant variety within four to five years estimates Haverkort. TUBERS HARVESTED There are no signs as yet of a comparable Dutch follow-up project. It is not clear what will happen to the potato variants from the DuRPh project. The tubers were recently har- vested but whether they will be planted next year depends on the funding. Continuing to OOSPORE SPORE PERIOD OF SURVIVAL OOSPORE OOGONIUM ANTHERIDIUM INFECTION CYST ZOOSPORE CONIDIUM SPOROPHORE SPORANGIUM 2N K P 1N M 2N SEXUAL ASEXUAL cultivate them would cost about 30000 euros a year. A grant application was rejected by the Ministry of Economic Affairs although retaining the potato variants is one item in the discussions that the ministry is holding with companies about follow-up research. Haverkort would like to keep the DuRPh variants for monitoring and demonstrations. We can let them grow as small plants in the lab only then it takes two seasons before they can be cultivated in fields again. But we still have four months to find a solution before the seed potatoes start to rot. Despite this open end Haverkort sees the results from DuRPh mainly as the perfect outcome. We really got the hang of the scientific and technical aspects. The project is not a semi-failure just because the results are not yet being applied in the agricultural sector. Of course it would have been wonderful if our research had led to a change in the law but that was not the aim. That would have been a side effect and this is something that will still take some time. Source Wageningen World magazine of Wageningen UR www.wageningenur.nlendurph LATE BLIGHT LIFE CYCLE