Solanum tuberosum


The economic production of starch potatoes requires stably high yields and starch contents. However, starch yield depends substantially on weather conditions and is jeopardized by early summer drought, which according to current climate change scenarios will become more frequent in Central Europe. Irrigation is ecologically and economically limited. Thus, future starch potato varieties need to be more drought-tolerant. The direct assessment of drought tolerance in breeding lines is laborious. Thus, molecular marker that predict drought tolerance will be developed in this project. These markers will accelerate breeding of drought tolerant starch potato varieties with high yield stability. To ensure that markers developed in exact experiments can be used under field conditions, markers will be validated on field samples. All markers and the test methods will be made available in a reference database to academia and breeders.

The project runs in three steps. (1) First, drought stress experiments will be performed on four varieties of known drought tolerance and plants sampled for metabolite and expression profiling. Statistical analysis will identify potential tolerance markers among several thousand metabolite and transcript data. (2) Drought tolerance will be determined for 30 additional cultivars to identify ten drought-sensitive and ten tolerant varieties. In these experiments and in fields across Germany, these cultivars are sampled for the validation in step (3). (3) Finally, the tolerance predicted by the marker is compared to the measured tolerance at different sites to check whether predictions can be generalised. The project will deliver validated molecular makers and well characterised potato germplasms as reference material for the breeding of drought-tolerant starch potato.


  1. Billiau, K, Sprenger, H, Schudoma, C, Walther, D, Köhl, KI (2012) Data management pipeline for plant phenotyping in a multisite project. Functional Plant Biology 39, 948-957.
  2. Schudoma, C, Steinfath, M, Sprenger, H, Dongen, JT, Hincha, D, Zuther, E, Geigenberger, P, Kopka, J, Köhl, K, Walther, D (2012) Conducting molecular biomarker discovery studies in plants. In 'T High-Throughput Phenotyping in Plants.' Vol. 918 pp. 127-150.
  3. Sprenger, H, Köhl, K, Rudack, K, Seddig, S, Peters, R (2014) Verbesserung der Trockentoleranz bei Stärkekartoffeln. Kartoffelbau 65, 23-27.
  4. Sprenger, H, Rudack, K, Schudoma, C, Neumann, A, Seddig, S, Peters, R, Zuther, E, Kopka, J, Hincha, DK, Walther, D, Köhl, K (2015) Assessment of drought tolerance and its potential yield penalty in potato. Functional Plant Biology 42, 655-667.