Photograph of potatoes just dug from a field

Genetics and breeding of potatoes uses the latest methods of gene discovery to find the genes required for the genetic improvement of the potato.

Potato Genetics research at the Hutton utilises cutting-edge tools and methods to study the genes responsible for important traits relevant to the potato industry. We have developed diploid and tetraploid mapping populations alongside association panels. The analysis of genetics involves a wide range of germplasm available at the James Hutton Institute, including accessions of wild and cultivated potatoes from Latin America in the Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC).

This includes:

  • long-day-adapted Andigena potatoes (Neotuberosum)
  • long-day-adapted Phureja potatoes
  • Solanum stenotomum, a diploid and primitive form of cultivated potatoes 


The primary focus of this research includes traits such as:

  • resistance to pests and pathogens that commonly affect potatoes,
  • tolerance to abiotic stresses such as heat, drought, and waterlogging,
  • nitrogen requirements,
  • Traits that impact the quality, nutritional value, and storage of potato crops.


Potato breeding at the James Hutton Institute is supported by commercial entities, and the ultimate goal is to develop new cultivars that meet the demands of processors and supermarkets. Emphasising the importance of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture and crop production, the research aims to produce new cultivars that offer environmental benefits. Alongside agronomic traits, it is crucial to have high levels of built-in and durable resistance, and understanding the molecular pathology and genetics of resistance is therefore significant. Additionally, consumers are increasingly seeking health benefits from their food, and deep yellow-fleshed Phureja potatoes, which contain carotenoids, play a role in this aspect.


Efforts are being made to develop more efficient breeding methods based on the findings of genetic analysis. Despite the complexities of tetrasomic inheritance in European potatoes, the research team has achieved success in this area. They are currently experiencing commercial success with new cultivars bred from previous assessments and the utilization of the CPC.