Potato and Sweetpotato Breeding and Genetics Programs

NC State University
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NCSU Dept of Horticultural Science
Vernon James Research And Extension Center
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Sweetpotato Breeding and Genetics Program

Department of Horticultural Science
Project Leader: Dr. G. Craig Yencho, Associate Professor
Researcher, Kenneth V. Pecota
Research Specialist, Lauren McLean
Research Technician, Carter Edgerton
Research Technician, Meri Reeber

The Sweetpotato Breeding and Genetics Program at North Carolina State University is one of the oldest sweetpotato breeding programs in the US. North Carolina is the leading supplier of sweetpotatoes in the nation producing ca. 240 thousand tons of sweetpotatoes per year, or roughly 30% of the nationals supply, which is worth an estimated US$ 55.7 million. The overall objectives of the research program are to: 1) develop sweetpotato varieties adapted to the growing conditions of North Carolina and the southeastern US; 2) broaden the germplasm base of cultivated sweetpotato through the incorporation of land races and related species; and 3) provide advanced training for national and international students and scientists interested in sweetpotato improvement. Traditional, biochemical, molecular marker-assisted, and transgenic breeding techniques are employed as necessary and feasible to facilitate our breeding efforts. To achieve our goals, the project interacts with a wide variety of public and private, and national and international interests.

Current domestic objectives of the breeding program include developing new orange- and white-fleshed sweetpotato varieties that are attractive, high yielding, stable across environments, and resistant to insects and pathogens of concern in the southeastern US. Current international projects include: 1) a McKnight Foundation Collaborative Crops Research Program project with the Namulonge Agricultural and Animal Research Institute (NAARI) in Uganda to develop sweetpotatoes resistant to sweetpotato virus disease (SPVD), a complex due to sweetpotato feathery mottle potyvirus (SPFMV) and sweetpotato chlorotic stunt crinivirus (SPCSV), using traditional breeding techniques; 2) a USAID/IARC project with Tuskegee University, The University of Florida, the International Potato Center, and NAARI to develop transgenic B.t.-expressing sweetpotatoes with resistance to sweetpotato weevils for use in East Africa; and 3) a project with CIP to develop a set of sweetpotato differentials for use in nematode race determination. In today's increasingly international marketplace our project is always looking for new partners to establish mutually beneficial collaborations focused on improving sweetpotato and increasing their productivity. Such projects may include, but are not restricted to, assisting with the development of new cultivars for either domestic or international use, and hosting and/or assisting with training of international scientists interested in sweetpotato improvement.

Vernon G. James Research and Extension Center, NCSU Phone: (252) 793-4428. Fax: (252) 793-5142.
Problems or Comments? Contact Mark_Clough@ncsu.edu. Updated: March 24, 2009