Milestone achievement: the breeding efficiency of hybrid potato in China will be improved by more than 50%

  Many people don’t know that the French fries eaten in KFC and McDonald’s all come from potato varieties bred 120 years ago. As the staple food of 1.3 billion people in the world, potato breeding process is slow, and new breeding methods are urgently needed to reform potato breeding. Therefore, the scientists of China Academy of Agricultural Sciences put forward the "Excellent Potato Plan", the purpose of which is to make people in China and even the whole world eat potatoes with higher yield and better quality.

  At 23: 00 Beijing time on May 4th, 2023, the international authoritative journal Cell published the latest research result of Huang Sanwen’s team of Shenzhen Institute of Agricultural Genomics, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences: "Phylogenetic Discovery of Deleterious Mutations Facilities Hybrid Potato Breeding".

  This research has invented a new "evolutionary lens" technology, which gives breeders a pair of "golden eyes", can find the genome "reef" (which scientists call "harmful mutation") that hinders potato breeding as early as possible, avoid breeding "going the wrong way", and let everyone eat better quality and high yield potatoes faster.

  "We drew the first two-dimensional map of harmful mutations in potato genome, and developed a new model of whole genome prediction by using the map information, which can predict the yield in seedling stage, with an accuracy of 25%-45% higher than before. In this way, materials with low yield can be eliminated at an early stage, thus quickly cultivating high-yield varieties, and the breeding efficiency of hybrid potatoes will be improved by more than 50%. " Huang Sanwen said in an interview with The Paper (

  "excellent potato plan"

  Potato is the most important tuber food crop, the main food source of 1.3 billion people and the fourth staple food crop in China. Potato has the advantages of high yield, less water consumption and wide planting area. However, because the traditional cultivated potato is autotetraploid and its genome is complex, the breeding process is very slow. In addition, the asexual propagation of potato chips also faces some problems, such as low propagation coefficient, high storage and transportation cost, and easy to carry pests and diseases.

  How to transform tetraploid potato propagated by tuber into diploid hybrid potato propagated by seed is a worldwide problem in potato industry, and it is also the "crown jewel" of seed industry innovation.

  In order to solve the above problems, Huang Sanwen’s team launched the "Excellent Potato Plan" in conjunction with domestic and foreign superior units, aiming at replacing tetraploid with diploid potato, replacing potato block with seed propagation, guiding potato breeding with genomics and synthetic biology, and completely changing the breeding and reproduction methods of potatoes.

  Yang Zhenhai, Party Secretary of China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said that in recent years, the "Excellent Potato Program" team has successively solved major problems such as potato genome analysis, self-incompatibility and self-decline, and cultivated the first generation of inbred lines and hybrids. The related achievements have been published in top international academic journals, and now the latest achievement of "Identification of harmful mutations by evolutionary genomics" has been published in Cell magazine, which can provide a new scientific basis for potato breeding parent selection and variety improvement. These original basic scientific research achievements have been highly recognized by colleagues at home and abroad, and laid a solid foundation for accelerating the breeding of diploid hybrid potatoes.

  Potato breeding enters the fast lane

  In this study, Huang Sanwen’s team collected a large number of Solanaceae species resources in conjunction with outstanding units at home and abroad, and traced the evolutionary traces of the longest 80 million years and accumulated 1.2 billion years through comparative analysis of 100 Solanaceae genomes. On this basis, an "evolutionary lens" was developed to discover the evolutionary constraints and harmful mutations of potatoes, and the first two-dimensional map of harmful mutations of potatoes was drawn.

  Using the map information, the researchers put forward a counterintuitive inbred line cultivation method and developed a new model for whole genome prediction, which made the potato yield prediction reach unprecedented accuracy. In addition, the model can accurately estimate the breeding value according to genotype and harmful mutation information, better help breeding experts to make early breeding decisions, further reduce breeding costs, shorten potato breeding cycle and quickly cultivate high-yield and high-quality potato varieties.

  This research made China stand in the leading position in the world in the basic theory and technology of potato breeding, and was funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and China Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

  So, what are the implications of this research for other crop breeding? In this regard, Li Jiayang, an academician of China Academy of Sciences (director of Yazhouwan Laboratory and researcher of Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences) said, "The research result of Huang Sanwen’s team will not only be for potatoes, but also for grain, oil, fruits, vegetables and tea."

  Zhong Kang, an academician of China Academy of Sciences (researcher of Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences) commented: "This research by Huang Sanwen’s team is a milestone achievement in potato breeding, which indicates that crop breeding has entered a new era, that is, breeders can’t just pay attention to their own ‘ Three points per acre ’ It is even more necessary to think about the new strategy of breeding from a larger evolutionary dimension. "

  "The research finally found the genetic basis of counterintuitive screening, developed a new genome-wide prediction model and applied it to the early decision-making of hybrid potato breeding, marking that China’s potato breeding has definitely reached the international frontier." Professor Lai Jinsheng of China Agricultural University (Director of National Maize Improvement Center) said.