Potato is the world’s third most important food crop with global acreage rising faster than that of any other crop due to its high yield potential and excellent nutritional characteristics. Teagasc has been conducting research on potatoes since the 1960s. Currently there are four primary research initiatives along with a Knowledge Transfer programme.
The potato breeding programme initiated in 1962, screens 100,000 seedlings each year. Thirty varieties for both national and international markets have been successfully developed. Rooster the best known of the Oak Park varieties due largely to its excellent taste and cooking quality.
The primary potato disease remains Phytophthora infestans (late blight), it is responsible for €1,000,000,000 of annual losses in the EU alone. Teagasc conducts research on the ever-changing ability of Irish strains to cause disease and how our varieties respond to this threat.
The genomics research programme commenced in 2002 and has successfully implemented biotechnology techniques (e.g. marker assisted selection) into the breeding programme. It was a key contributor to the sequencing of the potato genome.
GM research is independent of the breeding programme. It is focussed on evaluating the environmental impact of potatoes with late blight resistance that have been developed via GM technology.