Introducing Phytophthora infestans resistance in potato using CRISPR

Project Details


Main research question/goal

Can we use a CRISPR based approach to introduce Phytophthora infestans (P.i.) resistance in potato? Can we introduce 4 different resistance genes obtained from resistant Solanum species? Can we knock out plant susceptibility genes to avoid infection, while limiting pleiotropic effects on other plant processes? Which of both approaches is most promising? Would the best transfection/mutation tool be a classical vector or RNPs (ribonucleoproteins)?

Research approach

First, we develop an efficient protoplast-based transfection and regeneration protocol starting from 5-6 commercial cultivars, and select 1-2 for the rest of the project. Second, we identify candidate S-genes, design guide RNAs, construct vectors, transfect protoplasts and molecularly characterize mutation events. Third, we insert multiple resistance genes using CRISPR through homology directed repair. Finally, we phenotype regenerated material by testing disease resistance and screening for pleiotropic effects.


Flanders has a strong and growing potato-processing industry, and a growing area of production (51,414 ha in 2018). Phytophthora infestans causes “late blight” in potato, one of the most persistent and devastating diseases in this crop. Once infected, the pathogen can spread throughout an entire field within a week. Per year, the disease leads to losses of one billion € in the EU. Durable resistance would limit as well the economic losses as the use of pesticides (annual 10-15 x fungicide spraying) and the resulting environmental pressure of potato culture.

Effective start/end date1/09/1831/08/22

Flemish Discipline list

  • Molecular and cell biology not elsewhere classified
  • Horticultural crop production
  • Genomics
  • Cell growth and development
  • Genetics not elsewhere classified
  • Cell division
  • Development of bioinformatics software, tools and databases
  • Plant genetics
  • Crop science
  • Plant cell and molecular biology
  • Other biotechnology, bio-engineering and biosystem engineering not elsewhere classified
  • Plant developmental and reproductive biology
  • Agricultural plant breeding and biotechnology