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         When, Where and How will Tropical Root and Tuber Crops Lead the Next Agri-Food Revolution

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avatar for Pim Lindhout

Pim Lindhout

Solynta
Head of R&D
The Netherlands
Conversion of potato into hybrid breeding crop

Solynta has developed a revolutionary breakthrough by establishing a diploid potato capable of inbreeding, thereby allowing the much faster development of new hybrid cultivars that are propagated by clean seeds. Good performing inbred lines have been developed by many rounds of selfings, crosses, and selections. In 2014/15 the first experimental hybrids were generated followed by the second series one year later. Seed tubers of these first two series of hybrids were produced form seedlings in the field. The seed tubers were used to test the field performance of these hybrids in comparison with commercial cultivars.
The best six hybrids of the first series showed yields that were already close to those of the commercial controls in 2016, while the hybrids of the second series showed a much stronger overlap with the controls in 2017.

In addition, good performing highly homozygous inbred lines have great added value for genetic studies, whereby dedicated segregating populations are generated. This allows genetic dissection of complex traits like high content of carotenoid or anthocyanins. Also, a mutant population allows the identification of useful mutants via direct phenotyping or new alleles via tilling. Finally, known monogenic traits can be introduced via marker assisted backcrossing. Solynta showed that a susceptible hybrid can be converted into a double-stack Phytophthora resistant hybrid in only two years.
These results are typical for hybrid breeding. For long, potato has been considered as a recalcitrant crop for hybrid breeding. In the present study, many dogma’s, that have been considered inhibiting hybrid breeding in potato, have been invalidated. This also paves the way for hybrid breeding of other crops.

Pim has MSc’s in biology and chemistry and a PhD in molecular virology and a professional career with 20 years experience in breeding research at public organizations and over 12 years as head R&D in several seed-companies. He has over 100 publications in scientific journals, mainly in the fields of genetics and breeding. 
Pim initiated in 2006 research on hybrid potato breeding and is heading the R&D at Solynta with a team of over 30 staff. His main contribution is the development potato hybrid breeding platform that allows the breeding of innovative potato hybrids for all markets worldwide.