Potato World vision PW-ACTUA Don’t forget to look beyond your own world! Looking back on my two years in the seed potato sector, with considerable experience in related sectors such as crop protection and fertilisers, I’ve noticed that the potato sector is rather self-contained and inward looking. You can view this in different ways. One side of the coin is an enormous passion for the potato and its possibilities, wherever you’re active in the chain. ‘Once working in potatoes, always working in potatoes’, is a statement I’ve heard many times. Sufficient knowledge is essential in order to understand the business fully, because this is a knowledge-intensive sector with many challenges. It takes time to master the trade and you always have to go through a few seasons to be able to weigh things up properly. The flipside of the coin is that well-beaten paths have been trodden for a long time, and sometimes even appear set in stone. Innovation, being open to new insights, or questioning old working methods are matters that cannot be taken for granted, and therefore require a relatively large amount of time and energy. I’d go so far as to say that sometimes vision is blurred, but is fortunately shaken up again by outside parties such as companies and people that are new to the sector. Because people are at the core of the business, it’s very important to have a good balance between thorough potato knowledge and experience, and a fresh perspective from outside. Both are necessary for healthy business operations. You can fill that out in different ways: • Lots of networking, trips and congresses, where you come in direct contact with other sectors or with companies outside your own region. • Working with third parties (consultancy firms, accountants) that give you that fresh perspective from the outside. • Encouraging business successors to gain experience elsewhere, before they join the company. • Bringing people from outside the sector into your company, let them surprise you and accept that this will take more time. The potato has infinite possibilities, both in business and beyond! Be inspired by how things are handled elsewhere. Erika den Daas Managing Director Meijer The presented genome sequence enables faster and more targeted breeding. Researchers from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and the Solynta company have published the most complete genome sequence for potatoes ever. What is unique is that the scientists make both the sequence and the plant material (under certain conditions) available for research. In the future, for example, this knowledge may result in a potato that is more resistant to heat or drought, or more resistant to disease. Reading the potato’s genome structure is very difficult, because the regular potato consists of four genomes. This makes it hard to determine the position of the genes. For this study, a diploid fully-fledged potato plant with only one genome was used, a so-called homozygous plant. This makes it easier to read and connect the DNA base sequence. This plant, Solyntus, comes from the hybrid potato breeding programme of Solynta. In several research projects within WUR, both the plant and the sequence are used, which makes it possible to link experimental results to the genetic code. The presented genome sequence allows for faster and more targeted breeding, because breeders can more easily ‘look’ at the DNA to see which crosses with other varieties are interesting and where the exchange of genetic material between ‘father’ and ‘mother’ should ideally take place. As a result, it is known early on in the development stage whether the potato has the desired characteristics, for example better resistance to certain diseases. The research was co-funded by PepsiCo, with which the company wants to contribute to a sustain able food chain. The genome sequence is available via: https://www.plantbreeding.wur.nl/Solyntus. ● Potato genome almost deciphered 8 Potato World 2020 • number 1 Pagina 7

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