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1.  Comparative transcript profiling by SuperSAGE identifies novel candidate genes for controlling potato quantitative resistance to late blight not compromised by late maturity 
Resistance to pathogens is essential for survival of wild and cultivated plants. Pathogen susceptibility causes major losses of crop yield and quality. Durable field resistance combined with high yield and other superior agronomic characters are therefore, important objectives in every crop breeding program. Precision and efficacy of resistance breeding can be enhanced by molecular diagnostic tools, which result from knowledge of the molecular basis of resistance and susceptibility. Breeding uses resistance conferred by single R genes and polygenic quantitative resistance. The latter is partial but considered more durable. Molecular mechanisms of plant pathogen interactions are elucidated mainly in experimental systems involving single R genes, whereas most genes important for quantitative resistance in crops like potato are unknown. Quantitative resistance of potato to Phytophthora infestans causing late blight is often compromised by late plant maturity, a negative agronomic character. Our objective was to identify candidate genes for quantitative resistance to late blight not compromised by late plant maturity. We used diagnostic DNA-markers to select plants with different field levels of maturity corrected resistance (MCR) to late blight and compared their leaf transcriptomes before and after infection with P. infestans using SuperSAGE (serial analysis of gene expression) technology and next generation sequencing. We identified 2034 transcripts up or down regulated upon infection, including a homolog of the kiwi fruit allergen kiwellin. 806 transcripts showed differential expression between groups of genotypes with contrasting MCR levels. The observed expression patterns suggest that MCR is in part controlled by differential transcript levels in uninfected plants. Functional annotation suggests that, besides biotic and abiotic stress responses, general cellular processes such as photosynthesis, protein biosynthesis, and degradation play a role in MCR.
PMCID: PMC3827546  PMID: 24294214
potato; late blight; transcript profiling; SAGE; marker-assisted selection
2.  Validation of candidate gene markers for marker-assisted selection of potato cultivars with improved tuber quality 
Tuber yield, starch content, starch yield and chip color are complex traits that are important for industrial uses and food processing of potato. Chip color depends on the quantity of reducing sugars glucose and fructose in the tubers, which are generated by starch degradation. Reducing sugars accumulate when tubers are stored at low temperatures. Early and efficient selection of cultivars with superior yield, starch yield and chip color is hampered by the fact that reliable phenotypic selection requires multiple year and location trials. Application of DNA-based markers early in the breeding cycle, which are diagnostic for superior alleles of genes that control natural variation of tuber quality, will reduce the number of clones to be evaluated in field trials. Association mapping using genes functional in carbohydrate metabolism as markers has discovered alleles of invertases and starch phosphorylases that are associated with tuber quality traits. Here, we report on new DNA variants at loci encoding ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase and the invertase Pain-1, which are associated with positive or negative effect with chip color, tuber starch content and starch yield. Marker-assisted selection (MAS) and marker validation were performed in tetraploid breeding populations, using various combinations of 11 allele-specific markers associated with tuber quality traits. To facilitate MAS, user-friendly PCR assays were developed for specific candidate gene alleles. In a multi-parental population of advanced breeding clones, genotypes were selected for having different combinations of five positive and the corresponding negative marker alleles. Genotypes combining five positive marker alleles performed on average better than genotypes with four negative alleles and one positive allele. When tested individually, seven of eight markers showed an effect on at least one quality trait. The direction of effect was as expected. Combinations of two to three marker alleles were identified that significantly improved average chip quality after cold storage and tuber starch content. In F1 progeny of a single-cross combination, MAS with six markers did not give the expected result. Reasons and implications for MAS in potato are discussed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-012-2035-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3607734  PMID: 23299900
3.  Natural diversity of potato (Solanum tuberosum) invertases 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:271.
Invertases are ubiquitous enzymes that irreversibly cleave sucrose into fructose and glucose. Plant invertases play important roles in carbohydrate metabolism, plant development, and biotic and abiotic stress responses. In potato (Solanum tuberosum), invertases are involved in 'cold-induced sweetening' of tubers, an adaptive response to cold stress, which negatively affects the quality of potato chips and French fries. Linkage and association studies have identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) for tuber sugar content and chip quality that colocalize with three independent potato invertase loci, which together encode five invertase genes. The role of natural allelic variation of these genes in controlling the variation of tuber sugar content in different genotypes is unknown.
For functional studies on natural variants of five potato invertase genes we cloned and sequenced 193 full-length cDNAs from six heterozygous individuals (three tetraploid and three diploid). Eleven, thirteen, ten, twelve and nine different cDNA alleles were obtained for the genes Pain-1, InvGE, InvGF, InvCD141 and InvCD111, respectively. Allelic cDNA sequences differed from each other by 4 to 9%, and most were genotype specific. Additional variation was identified by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis in an association-mapping population of 219 tetraploid individuals. Haplotype modeling revealed two to three major haplotypes besides a larger number of minor frequency haplotypes. cDNA alleles associated with chip quality, tuber starch content and starch yield were identified.
Very high natural allelic variation was uncovered in a set of five potato invertase genes. This variability is a consequence of the cultivated potato's reproductive biology. Some of the structural variation found might underlie functional variation that influences important agronomic traits such as tuber sugar content. The associations found between specific invertase alleles and chip quality, tuber starch content and starch yield will facilitate the selection of superior potato genotypes in breeding programs.
PMCID: PMC3012049  PMID: 21143910

Results 1-3 (3)