Development of Potato tolerance to abiotic stresses with the PlantArray system

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The Horizon 2020 EU project Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato (ADAPT), in which Wageningen University is participating, aims to elucidate potato tolerance to single and combined abiotic stresses, and to develop new strategies for potato improvement. This interdisciplinary project is divided into six work packages (WPs), each executed by European experts in a broad range of fields, ranging from plant physiology to mathematical modeling.

Goal

To identify tolerant and susceptible cultivars and elucidate the bases of these differences at the molecular and physiological levels.

History

In 2021, researchers at Friederich-Alexander Universitat (FAU), Wageningen University and Research (WUR), and Utrecht University (UU) started the glasshouse experiments on the selected potato cultivars for heat, drought, and waterlogging stress, respectively. The glasshouse experiments succeeded in revealing genetic variation in stress responses, especially in agronomical traits such as harvest index and tuber yield. Interestingly, the researchers not only identified cultivars with stress-specific but also multi-stress tolerance or susceptibility, thus inspiring the entire ADAPT consortium to investigate this phenomenon.

Glasshouse experiment at Netherlands Plant Eco-Phenotyping Center (NPEC) at WUR. Dr. Lucía Perez is leading the hands-on research on drought stress.

Method – PlantArray system

Plantarray is a high-throughput, multi-sensor phenotyping gravimetric-based platform. The phenotyping is based on functional (physiology) growth- productivity traits, highly correlated with yield potential. The system continuously and simultaneously measures the momentary-varying water flux in the Soil-Plant-Atmosphere (SPAC) for each plant in the array under varying ambient conditions and measure the plants response to the dynamic environment. It accurately controls soil and water conditions, automatically applying multi-stresses and personalized control of each pot.

The platform provides a quantitative comparison of the plant response to different treatments and the precise prediction of plant growth and productivity.

Next steps at NPEC

Deep-phenotyping of a sub-set of 22 genotypes with contrasting responses to drought, consisting of tolerant and susceptible cultivars has been carried out early 2022. During this period, the phenotypic responses have been confirmed and correlated with gene expression analyses, thereby generating important information for sub sequential stages of the project in which experiments will be carried out to phenotype the potatoes’ responses to combined heat and drought stresses.

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