• A disease resistance locus on potato and tomato chromosome 4 exhibits a conserved multipartite structure displaying different rates of evolution in different lineages

      Destefanis, M.; Nagy, Istvan; Rigney, Brian; Bryan, Glenn J; McLean, Karen; Hein, Ingo; Griffin, Denis; Milbourne, Dan; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; et al. (Biomed Central, 24/10/2015)
      Background In plant genomes, NB-LRR based resistance (R) genes tend to occur in clusters of variable size in a relatively small number of genomic regions. R-gene sequences mostly differentiate by accumulating point mutations and gene conversion events. Potato and tomato chromosome 4 harbours a syntenic R-gene locus (known as the R2 locus in potato) that has mainly been examined in central American/Mexican wild potato species on the basis of its contribution to resistance to late blight, caused by the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Evidence to date indicates the occurrence of a fast evolutionary mode characterized by gene conversion events at the locus in these genotypes. Results A physical map of the R2 locus was developed for three Solanum tuberosum genotypes and used to identify the tomato syntenic sequence. Functional annotation of the locus revealed the presence of numerous resistance gene homologs (RGHs) belonging to the R2 gene family (R2GHs) organized into a total of 4 discrete physical clusters, three of which were conserved across S. tuberosum and tomato. Phylogenetic analysis showed clear orthology/paralogy relationships between S. tuberosum R2GHs but not in R2GHs cloned from Solanum wild species. This study confirmed that, in contrast to the wild species R2GHs, which have evolved through extensive sequence exchanges between paralogs, gene conversion was not a major force for differentiation in S. tuberosum R2GHs, and orthology/paralogy relationships have been maintained via a slow accumulation of point mutations in these genotypes. Conclusions S. tuberosum and Solanum lycopersicum R2GHs evolved mostly through duplication and deletion events, followed by gradual accumulation of mutations. Conversely, widespread gene conversion is the major evolutionary force that has shaped the locus in Mexican wild potato species. We conclude that different selective forces shaped the evolution of the R2 locus in these lineages and that co-evolution with a pathogen steered selection on different evolutionary paths.
    • Potatoes and livelihoods in Chencha, southern Ethiopia

      Tadesse, Yenenesh; Almekinders, Conny J.M.; Schulte, Rogier P.O.; Struik, Paul C.; Wageningen University and Research; Vita (Irish Aid); Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier BV, 2018-06-18)
      Potato is highly productive crop and can provide a cheap and nutritionally-rich staple food. Its potential as a cash generator and source of food is much under-utilized in many emerging economies. In this paper we study the impact of an intervention that introduced improved potato technologies in Chencha, Ethiopia on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. We collected information through in-depth interviews in order to explore possible pathways of impact on farmers’ livelihoods; and used this information as the basis for designing a household survey. The results show changes in agronomic practices and consumption; these changes were most pronounced among wealthy farmers who participated in the intervention. Farmers used the additional income from potato in different ways: wealthier farmers improved their houses and increased their livestock, whereas poor farmers mainly invested in furniture, cooking utensils, tools and in developing small businesses like selling and buying cereals, milk and weaving products in the local markets. Some wealthy farmers, who did not participate in the project, also derived some indirect benefits from the intervention. This underscores: i) interventions that promote uniform farming technologies in themselves are not always sufficient to improve the livelihoods of poor farmers, and ii) the need to broaden the scope of interventions so as to take into account the resources available to farmers in different wealth categories, and the diversity of strategies that they employ for improving their livelihoods. Our approach allows to understand and describe the different developmental effects of a single technological intervention on the different aspects of farmers’ livelihoods.