By 2006, when an international team formed the Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium to attempt to sequence the genome of the potato, Veilleux's simple little spuds were poised for fame as the first potato to have its genome sequenced.
But first, the consortium, made up of groups at institutions from 14 countries, wanted to sequence a more popular and productive tuber, more resembling what is found on dinner tables worldwide. The consortium was working with a diploid variety that, like Veilleux's potato, has only 24 chromosomes. However, the pairs of chromosomes of the selected line are not identical; they carry variations of similar genes, resulting in thousands of differences in the base pairs or rungs on the DNA ladder-- between chromosome pairs.
Modern sequencing technology is a time saver, spitting out 50-base pair sequences millions at a time. But the well-regarded modern potato has 840 million base pairs. The variation between pairs of chromosomes essentially doubled that. Assembling the puzzle was becoming overwhelming.
Then scientists within the consortium remembered Veilleux's presentations at international meetings about a simple little potato he was developing with hopes of it someday parenting a new hybrid.
Sanwen Huang with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, and Robin Buell of Michigan State University, both members of the consortium steering committee, each approached Veilleux for permission to use his simpler homozygous diploid potatoes for sequencing.
"I said, 'sure', and was invited to become a member of the consortium," said Veilleux.
Veilleux sent his plant material directly to Buell, whereas Huang obtained DNA of the same potato from Peru, where Veilleux had sent cultures years before for breeding studies by Meredith Bonierbale of the International Potato Center (CIP). DNA tests were done to make sure that the pota
|Contact: Susan Trulove|