Cornell Eastern Europe Mexico CEEM International Collaborative Project in Potato Late Blight Control

Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, USA, houses one of the largest concentrations of potato scientists in the world. Their expertise includes potato breeding with emphasis on disease and insect resistance; epidemiology, biology and management of P. infestans, the cause of late blight; production of pathogen-free seed potatoes; potato physiology; potato insects; nematodes; molecular genetics; production; biotechnology and integrated pest management. CEEM was established in 1996 through support from donors representing private foundations, private sector companies and bilateral/multilateral agencies. The project began efforts to build support and define objectives through individual contacts with other major researchers around the world, both in developed and developing country national programs. Representatives of the private sector were consulted regarding their interest in participating in this project. During 1996, CEEM organized a international planning conference involving representatives from several countries to:

1. Review and identify priority research topics to be addressed in the CEEM project; and

2. Determine the potential of technical cooperation and financial support.

Workshop participants agreed that the CEEM project should link with relevant activities of GILB and PICTIPAPA. An Executive Committee, made up of four internationally known individuals, with wide representation of partners from Mexico, Poland, Russia, Peru and the USA, was agreed to as a guiding component for the project, and was appointed. In addition, the project has an executive director and a project associate as its management team.

The scientific objectives and associated activities of the project are to:

1. Develop and make broadly available long day adapted potato germplasm with resistance to late blight;

2. Initiate basic investigations on the epidemiology, biology and life history of P. infestans;

3. Help evaluate breeding lines, genotypes and other disease management components in the Toluca Valley;

4. Provide short term training at Cornell for eastern European, Mexican and other scientists; and

5. Help support graduate students from Mexico and eastern Europe at Cornell.

Successful pursuit of these objectives is expected to:

1. Yield potato cultivars adapted to long days with high levels of late blight resistance;

2. Increase the understanding of the basic biology, epidemiology, and life history of P. infestans in a sexual population;

3. Provide an infrastructure that will enable plant breeders and plant pathologists from all over the world to conduct experiments in the Toluca Valley;

4. Increase the understanding of factors influencing late blight in New York, Mexican and eastern European production systems; and

5. Enhance our knowledge of the potential stabilities of new and traditional methods of managing late blight.

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