London: An international team of scientists has decoded the full DNA sequence of the potato for the first time, a breakthrough that holds out the promise of boosting harvests of one of the world's most important staple crops.
Researchers at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee in Scotland say it should soon be possible to develop improved varieties of potato much more quickly.
The genome of an organism is a map of how all of its genes are put together. Each gene controls different aspects of how the organism grows and develops.
Professor Iain Gordon, chief executive of the James Hutton Institute, said decoding the potato genome should enable breeders to create varieties which are more nutritious, as well as resistant to pests and diseases.
He hopes it will help meet the challenge of feeding the world's soaring population.
The research is far from complete. Analysing the genetic sequence of the plant will take several more years, BBC reported.
Currently, it can take more than 10 years to breed an improved variety.
By locating the genes that control traits like yield, colour, starchiness and flavour, the research should make it possible to develop better spuds much more quickly.
Potatoes provide the world's fourth-largest crop, with an annual, global yield of 330 million tonnes.
First Published: Sunday, July 10, 2011, 18:34