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Pioneering study highlights need for climate-resilient potato cultivars amidst global warming

In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, a team of researchers from the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has shed new light on the urgent challenges faced by potato cultivation under climate change.

The research, led by Keshav Dahal alongside colleagues Xiu-Qing Li, Helen Tai, Alexa Creelman, and Benoit Bizimungu, focuses on the necessity of developing stress-tolerant potato varieties to sustain global food supplies in the face of increasing environmental pressures.

The Challenge of Climate Change on Potato Production

Global warming poses significant threats to agriculture through extreme heat, drought, increased soil salinity, and a surge in pest and disease incidence. These factors collectively jeopardize plant performance and crop yield, particularly impacting potato crops, which rank as the fourth major food crop globally. With the global population on the rise, the study emphasizes the critical need to double the current yield of major food crops to meet future demands.

Key Findings and Innovations

The research highlights that potatoes are especially vulnerable to adverse climatic conditions. To counteract this, the study points out the absence of comprehensive data on potato resistance mechanisms against such environmental stresses as a significant barrier to progress. Addressing this gap, the Canadian scientists delve into the molecular, biochemical, and physiological responses of potato plants to elevated CO2 levels, high temperatures, and water scarcity.

“The elucidation of these mechanisms provides valuable insights into developing new breeding strategies aimed at enhancing potato yield under environmental stresses,” stated the researchers. The study discusses recent advancements in understanding how potato plants initially perceive and respond to changes in CO2, temperature, and water status. This knowledge is crucial for identifying traits that can be leveraged to breed new, more resilient potato cultivars.

Future Directions in Potato Research

The team suggests that future research should focus on identifying signaling molecules and target genes that regulate stress tolerance and crop yield potential. The development of “omics-driven” high-throughput techniques is highlighted as vital to advancing screening procedures for breeding robust potato cultivars.

Implications for Global Food Security

This study not only underscores the challenges posed by climate change but also charts a path forward for adapting potato cultivation practices. “Developing heat, drought, insect, and pathogen-tolerant crop cultivars is imperative to maintain productivity in the face of these new environmental realities,” explained the research team.

As the climate continues to change, the insights provided by this research are expected to play a pivotal role in securing the food supply for a growing global population by enhancing the adaptability and productivity of potato crops worldwide.


The collaborative effort of the research team at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada marks a significant step forward in our understanding of how to sustainably increase potato productivity in an era of unpredictable climate scenarios. With their findings, they provide a scientific foundation for developing the next generation of potato cultivars that can thrive under the stresses of global warming, ensuring that this staple food remains abundant and accessible.

For more information on this study, visit the publication in Frontiers in Plant ScienceImproving Potato Stress Tolerance and Tuber Yield Under a Climate Change Scenario – A Current Overview

Front. Plant Sci., 13 May 2019
Sec. Plant Abiotic Stress
Volume 10 – 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2019.00563