THE HAGUE, The Netherlands -- The Dutch government has decided to make 3 million euros available so The Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium can start sequencing the first potato chromosome.

Dutch researchers, working together with a worldwide group of research organizations, aim to complete the sequencing of the potato genome by the end of 2010. With this, they hope to make a contribution to the future global food supply.

The Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium (PGSC) is an initiative of the Netherlands Genomics Initiative and the Wageningen University and Research Centre. PGSC is a consortium of research teams from 16 different countries, who together have accepted the challenge of determine the complete DNA sequence of potato.

Other participating countries are Brazil, Chile, Peru, Canada, the United States, Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland, Turkey, Great Britain, the Russian Federation, India, China and New Zealand. All activities are coordinated from Wageningen, where the potato genome database will be maintained.

The potato genome consists of 12 different chromosomes. All partners of the consortium have chosen the chromosomes on which to focus their sequencing efforts. In order to give all partners a flying start, researchers from Wageningen have conducted a great deal of preparatory work. For example, they have developed DNA libraries that the partners can access, as well as creating a map of the 12 chromosomes.

The Dutch government has now decided to provide financing, both for the sequencing of chromosome No. 1 and the coordination of the entire consortium. Wageningen University is still eager to find Dutch partners to help finance the sequencing of their other chosen chromosome, No. 5.

The unravelling of the genome will enable potato growers and the processing industry to make better use of the potato's genetic potential. Insight into the potato genome creates numerous opportunities for developing new varieties with, for example, higher disease resistance and improved nutritional quality. Such improvements would have global implications, as the potato is the world's fourth most important crop.

SOURCE: Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium via PR Newswire.