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Pest-resistant potato cultivars

The potato group at the Institute for Genetics, the Environment and Plant Protection (UMR IGEPP) identified genes for resistance against the main pathogens of potato within the accessions kept by the BrACySol Biological Resources Centre.
Since 2008, an efficient public-private partnership has made it possible for French breeders to register thirteen new, resistant potato cultivars in the official catalogue.

Tubers of species related to the cultivated potato (Solanum sp.), in which resistance genes to the different pests were discovered.. © Inra
Updated on 12/18/2017
Published on 10/27/2017

An exceptional collection

Since the 1980s, research by the potato group at IGEPP (Le Rheu and Ploudaniel) has been focusing on traits for resistance to the main diseases that affect this species. Their work has been carried out in the context of multidisciplinary projects involving molecular biologists, geneticists, plant pathologists and nematologists, and taken advantage of the collection of potato accessions (cultivated species and wild tuber-bearing relatives) maintained  by INRA’s Biological Resources Centre BrACySol. This material was thoroughly characterised both genotypically and phenotypically for resistance, under controlled conditions and during field biotests.  

The research generated 729 innovative lines useful for breeding, more than 80% of which carried new genes for resistance to different pathogens. It identified several sources of resistance to major pathogens such as Phytophthora infestans, which causes late blight on foliage and tubers, Globodera pallida and Meloidogyne sp., the potato cyst and gall nematodes, or Pectobacterium sp. that cause stem (blackleg) and tuber soft rots.

Since 1995, these lines have been transferred to French potato breeders, as part of a public-private partnership that has been in place since 1969. They in turn have used these materials in their breeding schemes to develop new, resistant cultivars. The result of these longstanding efforts and cooperation has been the registration of 13 new, highly resistant cultivars which constitute breakthrough innovations for the sector (see insert).

Added economic value

Although the potato sector used to be one of the highest consumers of pesticides, these new accessions now make it possible to reduce their use, thus procuring a major economic gain for all professionals. Furthermore, they also offer a powerful negotiating tool for international trade between breeders.

These innovations have helped to maintain the competitiveness of the sector and had a significant impact on the turnover of the companies concerned.

Added social and environmental value

Growing these new varieties has the potential to considerably reduce the amounts of chemical inputs in soils contaminated by nematodes, as well as the quantities of fungicides sprayed to control late blight. Less than half the standard amount of pesticides is now sufficient to control the development of late blight on the most resistant cultivars. These genotypes have also enabled the development of an ‘environmental rating’ that is now included in official registration tests, and as such have contributed to implementation of the French pesticide reduction plan EcoPhyto.


The impetus provided by the EcoPhyto plan has increased stakeholder interest in a public-private collaboration that has been ongoing for over thirty years. The genetic diversity available in the resources managed by BrACySol and revealed by past and ongoing screenings is still being exploited, and will continue to produce solutions in response to numerous objectives:

  • The development of innovative plant material with new sources of resistance;
  • The acquisition of knowledge on populations of pathogens and their evolution when resistance genes are deployed (sustainable management of resistance);
  • The study of interactions between parasites and resistant plants, and of underlying mechanisms;
  • The generation of pre-breeding material that can be used to breed and register innovative cultivars;
  • The promotion of more environmentally-friendly farming practices, adapted to agroecological production and/or organic farming.

Resistant – and multiresistant – potatoes

Thirteen new, innovative and resistant cultivars, created by French private potato breeders using INRA pre-breeding lines, are now registered in the official French and European catalogues and are thus available to European potato growers: they can offer improved pest control and lower pesticide use.

  • With resistance to foliage late blight: Coquine (2008), Cephora (2013), Passion (2014), Maïwen (2015), Tentation (2015), Zen (2016), Selena (2016), Kelly (2016), Makhaï (2017), Delila (2017) and Azilis (2017).
  • With resistance to potato cyst nematode (G. pallida): lledher (2009), Malou (2011), Stronga (2014). One of these cultivars (Stronga) is resistant to both potato cyst nematodes G. pallida and G. rostochiensis, which makes it a worldwide ‘first’ in its market segment.

New varieties of resistant potatoes registered by French breeders. © INRA


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Contact : Alice VALLES, manager Carnot Plant2Pro ; Tel : +33 (0) 1 42 75 92 49 ;
INRA Transfert, 28 rue du Docteur Finlay, 75015 Paris

Twitter: @Plant2pro


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