New British genetically modified potato immune to fungus

A new strain of British genetically modified potato appears immune to the devastating fungus responsible for the great Irish famine of 1845, research has shown.

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Scientists conducting further research on GM potatoes

Scientists are now conducting further research aimed at identifying multiple resistance genes in genetically modified potatoes that will thwart future blight attacks.

Non-modified plants grown in a series of series of field trials were all infected after being denied protection from chemicals. However, no-one can say at this stage how long the GM strain will hold out against blight, which is notorious for its ability to overcome resistance.

Breeding from wild relatives is laborious and slow and by the time a gene is successfully introduced into a cultivated variety, the late blight pathogen may already have evolved the ability to overcome it.

With new insights into both the pathogen and its potato host, we can use GM technology to tip the evolutionary balance in favour of potatoes and against late blight.

– Lead scientist Professor Jonathan Jones, from The Sainsbury Laboratory

The Irish potato famine of 1845 was a disaster for the poorer people of Ireland who depended on potatoes for food and income.

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