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ADAPT field trials across Europe in search of multiple-stress tolerant potatoes

July 21, 2023

The European Potato Trade Association Europatat recently announced that for the Horizon 2020 EU project Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato (ADAPT), trials are currently being conducted in the Netherlands, Serbia, and Austria.

The project, in which Europatat participates, aims to elucidate potato tolerance to single and combined abiotic stresses, and to develop new strategies for potato improvement. The project is currently in its third year and to confirm the findings from previous years, several field trials are being conducted at different European locations. Large trials consisting of the same 54 potato varieties that have been tested in the previous years are being conducted in the Netherlands and Serbia, carried out by Meijer Potato and HZPC respectively. In addition, smaller trials focusing on a selection of 16 varieties are being conducted by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) in collaboration with the seedproducing co-operative of Lower Austria (NÖS) in the Marchfeld, Austria.

Full spectrum of stress conditions

‘ADAPT field trials are designed to resolve global molecular and physiological changes in potato plants exposed to multiple abiotic stressors and correlate them to tuber yield. In Austria and the Netherlands, the trials are being performed with and without irrigation, to specifically test drought stress sensitivity. In Serbia and Austria, ADAPT-researchers from the National Institute of Biology (NIB) in Ljubljana and the University of Vienna visited the trials to take samples for further molecular analyses. The weather conditions were quite challenging for the potatoes at all places but reflect the full spectrum of potential stress conditions: while at the trial in Serbia fields were flooded and plants are suffering from subsequent fungal and viral infections, strong heat- and drought-stress are currently challenging potato plants at the Marchfeld trial run by the AGES in Austria’, Europatat explains.

Sampling in-depth analysis

Europatat continues to report that the field trials in Serbia were visited by researchers from the NIB in Ljubljana on June 26 for the sampling of leaf material. The trials in Austria were also sampled on June 26 and again on July 11, after a strong heat- and drought period that caused clear growth differences among the tested varieties. This became particularly obvious in the non-irrigated fields, as shown below. ‘Even though the potato harvest did not take place yet, all teams expect to see clear differences in potato yield due to the combination of multiple stress conditions. It will be highly interesting to see differences in molecular acclimation strategies based on analysis of gene expression studies as well as proteomics and metabolite analyses, which will be carried out by the team from the University of Vienna from the samples taken in Austria’, the association states.

Field trials conducted in the Marchfeld area (Austria) show clear differences in drought sensitivity among different tested varieties (left). To get insights into the effects on tuber development, tubers were assessed and samples for further analysis were taken.

Image collection

For each trial, also drone flights were conducted, and RGB, thermal and multispectral images were collected. The first drone flight took place on May 31st and more flights were performed to follow growth and development. The harvesting and scoring of the trial is scheduled for late August or early September. Subsequent analyses will allow HZPC to take a closer look into stress genes involved in the responses to heat and drought. After harvesting, all samples will be sent to HZPC Research for further grading using an optical grader and additional measurements, such as determining underwater weight et cetera.


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