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Launch of the new project ‘ADAPT‘ to study potato’s adaptionmechanisms to multiple stresses

• The Faculty of Life Sciences of the University of Vienna coordinates a consortium of 17European leading academic research institutions, potato breeders, a non-profit EUassociation, a government agency and a screening technology developer.

• The ADAPT project aims at identifying new breeding targets and matching potatovarieties to specific challenging environmental growth conditions of the future.

• The project has received a €5 million grant from the Horizon 2020 EU Program.

Vienna, 31 August 2020 – The ADAPT consortium has successfully launched the project“Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato”, which aims at developing newstrategies to make potatoes fit for the challenging growth conditions of the future. The ADAPTproject will take place over the next four years with a total budget of 5 million Euro from theEU Horizon 2020 program (No GA 2020 862-858)

Potato is one of the most important food crops worldwide. However, a major threat to tuberyield security for this staple food crop is its vulnerability to environmental stresses;particularly to combinations of heat and drought, which are becoming increasingly prevalentdue to climate change. Often these conditions are also followed by seasonal flooding, whichcan ruin the entire harvest within a few days. While there is some knowledge of responses tomultiple stresses from model plant species such as Arabidopsis, similar knowledge in potatois lacking. In the ADAPT project, the complementary expertise of ten leading academicresearch institutions, four potato breeders, a screening technology developer, a governmentagency and a non-profit EU association will come together to investigate the mechanismsunderlying multi-stress resilience in potato.

The ADAPT project is led by Dr. Markus Teige from the Faculty of Life Sciences of theUniversity of Vienna, who explains that the potato comes from areas with a cool climate andis therefore particularly sensitive to heat. Moreover, as the tubers are growing in the soil, theyare also extremely sensitive to flooding stress, which also increase their vulnerability todisease. “With this project we will determine the molecular and phenotypical responses todifferent stress conditions, which are becoming increasingly important for potato yield underthe challenging growth conditions due to climate change. Together with the breeders we willidentify traits and genes that can enhance stress resilience in this very important food crop”,Dr. Teige adds.

The project’s researchers will combine molecular biology, stress physiology, systems biologyand analytics with engineering and molecular breeding and include end-user driven agenciesfor variety testing and potato trading to translate findings. “Arising from our mechanisticunderstanding we aim to identify new breeding targets and matching potato varieties tospecific environmental conditions. Knowledge from our research will directly reach the mostrelevant stakeholders and end-users feeding into breeding programmes and guidingtechnology development for improved crop management strategies”, Dr. Teige concludes.

The ADAPT project kick-off meeting was held online in July 2020 bringing togetherrepresentatives of the project partners and the European Commission.

Visit the official project’s website (adapt.univie.ac.at) and Twitter account (@eu_Adapt)for more information and updates.

Coordinator
Markus Teige
Molecular Systems Biology
Faculty of Life Sciences
Althanstr. 14
A-1090 Vienna
AUSTRIA
T: +43-1-4277-52817
markus.teige@univie.ac.at

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