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.
– Lead scientist Professor Jonathan Jones, from The Sainsbury Laboratory
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.
The Irish potato famine of 1845 was a disaster for the poorer people of Ireland who depended on potatoes for food and income.