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 wild potato relatives and from the Sarpo Mira potato variety.

Proposed period of release:
01/05/2016 to 30/11/2018

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 tuberosumtuberosumMaris Piper and Desiree

2. Description of the traits and characteristics which have been introduced or modified, including marker genes and previous modifications:
- Improved resistance to Phytophthora infestans
- Either nptII gene (resistance to kanamycin) or bar gene (resistance to glufosinate) used solely as selectable marker genes 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:
Each transgenic line will contain T-DNA borders, one of six resistance genes (Rpi-vnt1.1, Rpi-amr3, Rpi-amr1e, Rpi-amr1k, Rpi-Smira1 or Rpi-Smira3) and one of two selectable marker genes (nptII or bar). Details on these components are listed below:

- T-DNA borders (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) for insertion of genetic material into plant chromosome.
- Resistance gene Rpi-vnt1.1 (Solanum venturii) with endogenous promoter and terminator sequences for improved resistance to P. infestans.
- Resistance gene Rpi-amr3 (Solanum americanum) with endogenous promoter and terminator sequences for improved resistance to P. infestans.
- Resistance gene Rpi-amr1e (Solanum americanum) with endogenous promoter and terminator sequences for improved resistance to P. infestans.
- Resistance gene Rpi-amr1k (Solanum americanum) with endogenous promoter and terminator sequences for improved resistance to P. infestans.
- Resistance gene Rpi-Smira1 (Solanum tuberosum subsp. tuberosum var Sarpo Mira) with endogenous promoter and terminator sequences for improved resistance to P. infestans.
- Resistance gene Rpi-Smira3 (Solanum tuberosum subsp. tuberosum var Sarpo Mira) with endogenous promoter and terminator sequences for improved resistance to P. infestans.
- nptII gene (Escherichia coli) for kanamycin resistance in plant material.
- bar gene (Streptomyces hygroscopicus) for glufosinate resistance in plant material.
- Promoter and terminator sequences from the nopaline synthase gene (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) controlling expression of nptII gene in plants carrying Rpi-vnt1.1.
- Promoter and terminator sequences from the nopaline synthase gene (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) controlling expression of bar gene in plants carrying Rpi-amr3, Rpi-amr1e and Rpi-amr1k.
- Promoter sequence from the nopaline synthase gene (Agrobacterium tumefaciens), 5’-untranslated region from tobacco mosaic virus (TMV Omega Leader) and terminator sequence from the octopine synthase gene (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) controlling expression of nptII gene in plants carrying Rpi-Smira1 and Rpi-Smira3.

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). This research has been publicly funded.
Recently, five such genes were successfully isolated from the potato relative Solanum americanum (Rpi-amr3, Rpi-amr1e, Rpi-amr1k) and from the Solanum tuberosum Sarpo Mira variety (Rpi-smira1 and Rpi-smira3). These have been (or will be) transformed into the potato cultivar Maris Piper. Previously, the gene Rpi-vnt1.1 was isolated from the wild South American potato relative Solanum venturii. This gene has been transformed into the potato cultivar Desiree and successfully tested in the field in recent years (Jones et al, 2014). The line carrying Rpi-vnt1.1 will be used as positive control in the proposed trial.
The genes identified are potentially valuable weapons in the fight against potato late blight as they confer resistance against many different isolates of this pathogen, including the strains which are 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 (Ordnance Survey map grid reference TG 1707).

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:
One of the genotypes included in this application (i.e., Desiree potato plants carrying the Rpi-vnt1.1 transgene) has been previously released in the UK as part of a successful field trial carried out between 2010 and 2012. None of the other transgenic lines included in this application (i.e., Maris Piper potatoes carrying Rpi-amr3, Rpi-amr1e, Rpi-amr1k, Rpi-Smira1 or Rpi-Smira3) has been previously released.

The results of the previous Rpi-vnt1.1 field trial have been reported in Jones et al (2014) and showed that this gene conferred effective resistance to the races of the late blight pathogen that circulated in the UK at the time of the trial. No unexpected effects on humans, animals or the environment were observed and thus all risk management procedures in place were deemed to have been effective. The field trial is currently in the post-trial monitoring phase; groundkeepers are still being observed in the plots planted in 2011 and 2012, although only 7 groundkeepers were found in the 2011 plots during 2015 and we expect this number to reduce significantly for 2016.

We plan to use these Rpi-vnt1.1 transgenic Desiree plants as positive control in the field trial of the Rpi-amr3, Rpi-amr1e, Rpi-amr1k, Rpi-Smira1 and Rpi-Smira3 genes, if permission is granted.

Environmental Impact and Risk Management

Summary of the potential environmental impact from the release of the GMPts:
The genetically modified potato lines each contain one of six resistance genes: Rpi-vnt1.1 from Solanum venturii, Rpi-amr3, Rpi-amr1e or Rpi-amr1k from Solanum americanum and Rpi-smira1 or Rpi-smira3 from the potato variety Sarpo Mira. All of these genes confer improved resistance to Phytophthora infestans. Many conventional potato varieties also contain resistance genes of the same class (NB-LRR) that have been introgressed from wild Solanum species, in addition to their large complement of ~ 750 other NB-LRR genes. 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 some of the potato plants imparts resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin to the shoots during the selection process in tissue culture. This confers no selective advantage in the field since antibiotics are not applied to agricultural crops.

The bar gene present in some of the potato plants confers resistance to glufosinate-containing herbicides and will only be used during the selection process in tissue culture. Glufosinate will not be used in the context of the proposed trial and plants expressing the bar gene are still susceptible to other commonly used herbicides.

Neither the resistance genes nor the selectable marker genes 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 resistance genes and the selectable marker genes are thus not anticipated to confer any advantage compared to conventional potato varieties with respect to persistence in agricultural habitats under normal agricultural practice or invasiveness in natural habitats.

Through the measures that 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 or BAR proteins. 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 May-November (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, all harvested material (plant tops and tubers) will be placed in sealed bags or containers and removed from site to an authorised waste disposal facility. Disposal will be carried out by incineration through our contractor SRCL. The plot will be left fallow and monitored for groundkeepers during the remainder of the year. Any volunteers identified will be immediately destroyed either by application of a systemic broadleaf herbicide or by hand pulling plants and digging out tubers/root systems. These will then be autoclaved within the Sainsbury Laboratory. 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 to enable easy identification of volunteers. The site will be inspected monthly between April and November (the growing season of potato) and any volunteers identified will be immediately destroyed either by hand pulling plants and digging out tubers/root systems followed by autoclaving within the Sainsbury Laboratory. If volunteers are found at the end of the 2-year period, DEFRA recommendations will be followed for the management of the release site. 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.

Emergency procedures: At any time point post planting, should the release need to be terminated, any plant material will be sprayed with an appropriate systemic broadleaf herbicide and tubers dug up by fork and hand and transferred to an authorised waste facility for disposal by deep burying or incineration.
Should the release site be subject to vandalism, care will be taken to ensure that all uprooted plant material within and outside of the trial site is identified and destroyed accordingly as described above.

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:
26/04/2016 00:00:00