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Our environment has probably the biggest influence on our health and well-being, but it's a two-way process and it's vital that we understand, respect and monitor the world around us. The Science Squad investigates Irish developments for growing blight-resistant crops, look at technologies for monitoring our hugely important marine resources, and ask how controlled changes in the environment of plants could offer new insights into the consequences of climate change.
Ireland's relationship with the potato has been a long and complex one. It is fitting perhaps that Irish researchers featured strongly on the international team that mapped the complete potato genome -- the results of which made the front cover of the international journal Nature. Dr Dan Milbourne of Teagasc is mining this invaluable genetic information to help develop new blight resistant varieties which could help greatly in preventing disease and assist in the ever worsening global food shortage problem.
"Access to the genome sequence is really going to revolutionise our understanding of potato biology, and it's already contributed to a better understanding of the genetic basis of resistance to diseases like blight," says Dr Dan Milbourne, Teagasc, Crops, Environment and Land Use Research Programme, Oak, Park, Carlow. "We're already exploiting that knowledge to help us breed more resistant varieties," he explained.
"We've been breeding potatoes for almost fifty years at Teagasc Oak Park, with notable successes like Cara and Rooster, and with our experience, we're ideally placed to exploit this more basic kind of scientific research and turn it into better potato varieties, with tangible benefits for the consumer, the environment and growers," said Teagasc potato breeder, Dr Denis Griffin.
For further details see: http://www.thesciencesquad.ie/episodes/episode-5
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