Graduate student Kristen Michelle Brown is working with two potato varieties from the University of Maine breeding program that may hold a late blight-resistant gene. Brown’s research is a reproduction of a 1977 experiment by researcher William Fry, who was looking for a way to reduce the amount of fungicides used on spuds. The fungicide used in the experiment and by potato growers in northern climates today works to combat late blight pressure in potatoes.
“What [Fry] found was that when these potatoes have resistance genes, they don’t need as much fungicide,” Brown told The Maine Campus.
Brown’s research is partially funded by the Maine Potato Board. She presented this information to the 28th annual Maine Potato Conference earlier this year. She thinks of her role as providing more information to farmers, with the farmers making the final decision.
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