Potato genome editing for late blight resistance
Late blight, caused by the oomycete Phytophthora infestans, is the most devastating disease in potato, leading to a global economic loss of about € 9.4 billion per year. Most of the currently used elite potato cultivars are susceptible to late blight. In order to control P. infestans, growers rely on biocide application. However, such chemical control is expensive, time consuming and non-environmentally friendly. As an alternative, the introgression of resistance (R) genes from wild potato relatives is a promising solution, required to reduce the impact of late blight on the potato fields. Most of these R genes are part of the Nucleotide-binding – Leucine-rich repeat (NB-LRR) protein family. These receptors recognise pathogen effectors and trigger the plant immune response.
My research aims to develop new potato varieties resistant to P. infestans by editing NB-LRR receptors using genome editing tools, i.e. CRISPR-Cas. In this project, we will develop novel strategies that allow a more effective control of P. infestans, in order to decrease the large impact of this pathogen on the potato fields.