The International Potato Center (CIP), a global agricultural research and development organization, member of the CGIAR Consortium, and custodian of the world’s largest potato gene bank, is partnering with Novogene Bioinformatics Technology Co., Ltd., a leading genomics solution provider with the largest Illumina-­based sequencing capacity in China, to advance potato genome research.
Announced at the 9th World Potato Congress being held July 28 – 30 in Beijing, China, the partnership aims to facilitate production of improved varieties that will  meet future challenges such as increased yield, disease resistance and drought tolerance in response to global population growth and the effects of climate change on crops.

Under the partnership, Novogene will sequence the genomes of samples provided by CIP from nine different taxa of cultivated potato and one closely related wild species. Novogene’s scientists will  then apply their cutting edge bioinformatics technologies and expertise to assemble the millions of sequences and align them to the publically available reference potato genome.

“Our partnership with Novogene has the potential to significantly advance potato genomics and benefit current and future research to improve potato cultivation,” said Dr. Barbara H. Wells, Director   General of CIP and a keynote speaker at the World Potato Congress. “At its core, it will enable the sequencing of ten new potato genomes, while currently only two are known. Five years ago, even  attempting  such a project would not have been feasible. While still no trivial task, the combined knowledge of CIP plant scientists and Novogene scientists along with advances in technology now
makes this type of discovery apossibility.”

Dr. David Ellis, Director of CIP’s Genebank, stated, “The work being undertaken represents a large first step to enable us to start to understand the complex genomes of potato. Novogene brings great technological know-­‐how to this project that will help us to unravel hidden genetic treasures in the potato genome and the CIP Genebank. Uncovering and unraveling these treasures – including the possibility of identifying genes that are responsible for important traits such as disease resistance, insect resistance, drought, frost and salinity tolerance, early tuber formation, enhanced yield and
more – all becomes possible via the use of genomics technology.

“We are already seeing this come to light in other crops,” added Dr. Ellis. “It is now possible with potato.”

“We welcome this opportunity to partner with the International Potato Center to advance this  important  genomic research,” stated Dr. Ruiqiang Li, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Novogene. “By applying our sequencing and bioinformatics expertise to CIP’s extensive gene bank, we   hope to have a positive impact on future global crop production.”