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New commercial varieties of resistant to water stress potatoes are being developed in Chile

The research is from the Austral University of Chile (UACh), with the support of the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA).


Potato crop in Chile.

Due to the great consumption of potatoes in Chile and abroad, experts from the Austral University of Chile (UACh), with the support of the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA), develop two new commercial varieties that adapt to water stress , one of the effects of climate change.

The project, in charge of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences of said house of studies began in 2018 and is being carried out in the regions of Los Lagos, Los Ríos, La Araucanía and Biobío in order to evaluate the improved lines of native potatoes, a national plant genetic heritage.

To date, says Carolina Lizana, director in charge of the project, one of the results is that “of the 22 improved lines that were analyzed, 2 are the ones that we have selected to become a variety with high value in functional properties and nutritional in a short term ”.

Among their characteristics, says Lizana, is the greater efficiency in the use of water, they do not show negative effects due to an increase in temperature of 3 ° C, they have a high anthocyanin content and antioxidant capacity. One will have aptitude for frying (low in reducing sugars, crispy and with low oil absorption); and the second, with qualities for cooking (firmness of the pulp, without mealiness and low starch degradation).

“Trials have been carried out for three consecutive years evaluating the behavior of the lines in the face of thermal and water stress, which has made it possible to determine those with more stable yields, in the face of these climatic events. This has been complemented with trials in the field of farmers located in the Araucanía region and the Los Lagos region who use different crop management practices, with excellent results ”, Lizana details.

In the same area, Anita Behn, alternate director of the project, adds that the improved lines, “have presented attractive colors, flavor and post-cooking pulp firmness in the case of cooked potatoes. The lines have been evaluated two seasons in their aptitude for fried and cooked ”.

For his part, the executive director of FIA, Ávaro Eyzaguirre, maintains that “the evaluations of the crosses made with materials from the oldest Potato Germplasm Bank in Chile will continue to support foods that have a large national production. As the Odepa registry indicates, more than 1 million tons of potatoes were produced in the last season, with the regions of Los Lagos and La Araucanía being the highest in production, so we must, from innovation, provide more tools so that the crop continues to be resistant to the adverse conditions presented by climate change ”.

Part of the results of the project were obtained after evaluating the physiological behavior, yield and resistance to diseases, of pre-existing lines in the potato germplasm bank of the Austral University of Chile, allowing to determine the healthy and / or functional properties of the improved lines and basic material, under potential stress conditions.

In prospecting, it is expected to generate a business model and intellectual protection for future varieties generated. In addition to disseminating and transferring the results of the project through free public platforms.

For this reason, says the dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences of the UACh, Dr. José Dörner, said that “this applied research becomes relevant in the current context of climate change, addressing a specific problem and proposing innovations to promote a a crop of great importance for people's nutrition such as potatoes, which in this case have a particular stamp because they correspond to native potatoes of our country, derived from the potato germplasm bank maintained by our Faculty ”.


In addition to delivering new varieties of potatoes to the market, the project increases the availability of cross parents with characteristics demanded by the future market (adaptation to climate change and high functional value), which could accelerate the market launch of varieties in the medium national; in addition to contributing with advanced lines (in some years more varieties) with special characteristics, which will increase the value of the production chain, with higher returns for the producer and the processing and marketing companies of these products.

"A great step has been taken in the use of Chilean potato germplasm and, with it, the development of varieties with characteristics that make them very suitable, to satisfy an increasingly demanding and informed consumer", closes the general manager of the Consortium Potato Chile, Luis Miquel.

Carolina Lizana, director in charge of the project.

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