Science | Oregon

OSU Researchers Help Map 'Potato Famine' Pathogen

OPB | Sept. 9, 2009 5:09 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:10 a.m. | Salem, OR

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By Chris Lehman

Researchers say they're one step closer to defeating the culprit behind the Irish Potato Famine and countless other crop disasters.

Several scientists, including some at Oregon State University, announced Wednesday that they've mapped out the genome behind a notorious pathogen. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.


The pathogen behind the deadly Irish potato famine is commonly known as “late blight”.

It's not just something out of the history books. Outbreaks still occur today, including one last month in Wisconsin.

Now, researchers, including five at Oregon State University, say they've completed work on a genetic map of the pathogen.

Jim Carrington is director of the Center for Genome Research at OSU.

Jim Carrington: “What we can use this information for is to breed better plants that are more resistant to this pathogen.”

Most growers fight late blight with fungicides, but Carrington says the pathogen has adapted and some chemicals can no longer ward it off.

He says russet potatoes, which are widely grown in Idaho, are especially susceptible.

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