Notification report

General information

Notification Number

Member State to which the notification was sent
United Kingdom

Date of acknowledgement from the Member State Competent Authority

Title of the Project
Improving late blight (Phytophthora infestans) resistance in potato using resistance genes from South American potato relatives

Proposed period of release:
01/05/2010 to 31/10/2012

Name of the Institute(s) or Company(ies)
The Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Centre
Colney Lane
Norwich, NR4 7UH;

3. Is the same GMPt release planned elsewhere in the Community?

Has the same GMPt been notified elsewhere by the same notifier?

Genetically modified plant

Complete name of the recipient or parental plant(s)
Common NameFamily NameGenusSpeciesSubspeciesCultivar/breeding line
potatosolanaceaesolanumsolanum tuberosumtuberosumDesiree

2. Description of the traits and characteristics which have been introduced or modified, including marker genes and previous modifications:
- improved resistance to Phytophthora infestans
- nptII gene (resistance to kanamycin) used solely as selectable marker gene to identify transgenic cells in tissue culture

Genetic modification

3. Type of genetic modification:

In case of insertion of genetic material, give the source and intended function of each constituent fragment of the region to be inserted:
- T-DNA borders, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, for incorporation into plant chromosome.
- Resistance gene Rpi-vnt1.1 Solanum venturii, with endogenous promoters and terminators for improved resistance to P. infestans.
- Resistance gene Rpi-mcq1.1 Solanum mochiquense, with endogenous promoters and terminators for improved resistance to P. infestans.
- nptII gene, E. coli, kanamycin resistance in plant material.
- Promoter and terminator from nopaline synthase gene, A. tumefaciens, controlling expression of nptII gene in plants containing Rpi-vnt1.1.
- CaMV35S promoter, Cauliflower Mosaic Virus, controlling expression of nptII gene in plants containing Rpi-mcq1.1.
- ocs 3’ (octopine synthase terminator), A. tumefaciens, controlling expression of nptII gene in plants containing Rpi-mcq1.1.

6. Brief description of the method used for the genetic modification:
Plasmid DNA was introduced into the potato lines by Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer technology. This is standard technology for potato transformation.

7. If the recipient or parental plant is a forest tree species, describe ways and extent of dissemination and specific factors affecting dissemination:
Not applicable

Experimental Release

1. Purpose of the release:
Since 2001, we have been working towards identifying, mapping and isolating resistance genes from potato that confer resistance against potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans). Recently, two such genes (Rpi-vnt1.1 and Rpi-mcq1.1) were successfully isolated from wild South American relatives of the potato and these have been transformed into the potato cultivar Desiree. The genes identified are potentially valuable weapons in the fight against potato blight as between them they confer resistance against many different isolates of late blight, including the very aggressive Blue 13 strain which is currently responsible for major potato losses in the UK and Europe. Thus there is a need to test these genes in a ‘real’ environment.
The aims of the trial are:
1) to demonstrate that the transferred resistance genes offer a valuable method for controlling late blight of potatoes which does not rely on agricultural inputs (pesticides).
2) to confirm that the transferred resistance genes still function in a ‘real life’ situation (i.e. in a field as opposed to a lab/greenhouse).
3) to expose plants containing the newly identified genes to the local populations of late blight to confirm that they are indeed useful.
4) if infection does result in disease, to isolate the corresponding pathogen race.

2. Geographical location of the site:
The release site will be located at the John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK (OS grid reference TG1707).

3. Size of the site (m2):
Approx. 1000 m2

4. Relevant data regarding previous releases carried out with the same GM-plant, if any, specifically related to the potential environmental and human health impacts from the release:
There have been no previous releases of the same potato plants

Environmental Impact and Risk Management

Summary of the potential environmental impact from the release of the GMPts:
The genetically modified potato lines contain one of two NB-LRR-genes, Rpi-vnt1.1 from Solanum venturii and Rpi-mcq1.1, from S. mochiquense for conferring improved resistance to P. infestans. Many conventional potato varieties also contain NBS-LRR-genes that have been introgressed from wild Solanum species. An intended effect of the introduced trait is an increased survivability in potato fields exposed to P. infestans. This possible selective advantage, however, is of importance only in the agricultural field, and will not improve the survivability in the surrounding environment. The reduced need for fungicides on these lines can be identified as an environmental benefit.

The nptII gene expressed in the potato plants imparts tolerance to the antibiotic kanamycin to the shoots during the selection process in cell culture. This confers no selective advantage in the field since antibiotics are not applied to agricultural crops.

Neither the R genes Rpi-vnt1.1 or Rpi-mcq1.1 nor the kanamycn resistance gene confer characteristics to the GM potato that would increase the competitiveness of plants containing the genes in unmanaged ecosystems. Neither would the genes enable plants carrying them to out-compete plants of similar type for space. None of the transferred genes are anticipated to affect pollen production and fertility, seed dispersal or frost tolerance. Seeds and tubers, which might be spread outside cultivated fields, would have no competitive advantage in this environment. Potatoes are not persistent outside the agricultural environment and feral potato plants do not generally occur in the UK. The introduced R genes and the kanamycin resistance gene are thus not anticipated to confer any advantage compared to conventional potato varieties with respect to persistence in agricultural habitats or invasiveness in natural habitats.

Through the measures which are taken during the release, distance from or absence of conventionally cultivated potatoes or wild species, the possibility of any gene transfer can be virtually ruled out. Even in the very improbable event that pollen were to be transferred to genetically unmodified potato plants, no consequences are to be expected, since potato propagation conventionally takes place via tubers and not via seeds. The interactions of the genetically modified potato line with non-target organisms and the effects resulting from this will be comparable to those with conventional potato varieties. Furthermore, no toxic or allergenic effects are expected on the basis of the improved resistance to P. infestans or the expressed NPTII protein. No effects on biogeochemical processes are expected, other than those that apply also to conventional potatoes.

Brief description of any measures taken for the management of risks:
An isolation distance of 20 m to other potato varieties will be observed.

The release site will be visited by trained laboratory personnel at no less than weekly intervals during the May-October (the potato growing season) of each year of the trial. Visits will usually occur more frequently. Any unexpected occurrences that could potentially result in adverse environmental effects or the possibility of adverse effects on human health will be notified to the national inspectorate immediately. Should the need arise to terminate the release at any point the emergency plans detailed below will be followed.

At the end of each season, the plot will be sown to grass and monitored for groundkeepers during the remainder of the year. Any groundkeepers identified will be destroyed by herbicide treatment (e.g. glyphosate) or removed by hand and destroyed by heat treatment. The monitoring of the plot for groundkeepers will be continued at monthly intervals for the duration of the three-year trial by walking the trial site.

Following completion of the three-year trial the release site will remain fallow or will be planted with grass to enable easy identification of volunteers. The site will be inspected monthly between April and October (the growing season of potato) and any volunteers identified will be immediately destroyed either by application of a systematic broad leaf herbicide or by hand pulling plants and digging out tubers/root systems. If volunteers are found at the end of the two-year ‘fallow’ period, monthly inspections will continue during April-October of the subsequent season until 3 successive months have passed in which no volunteers have been found. Both raw data and reports of inspections of groundkeepers and volunteers will be maintained and provided to DEFRA. The cultivation of the release site after the monitoring programme has concluded will be according to local crop rotation practice for potatoes.

Summary of foreseen field trial studies focused to gain new data on environmental and human health impact from the release:
Not applicable

Final report

European Commission administrative information

Consent given by the Member State Competent Authority:
18/05/2010 00:00:00
Consent issued for up to 3 years of trials ending on 30/11/2012. The trial site should not exceed 300 sq m per year and should include no more than 400 plants per year.