Program Activities and Specific Outcomes

Several important areas of investigation have been determined which are basic to the success of developing resistance to late blight and can be achieved only through international cooperation. In Mexico, the focus of PICTIPAPA/CEEM collaboration works in five research modules. Module 1 deals with evaluation of international potato materials for durable late blight resistance in the Toluca Valley. Module 2 identifies new sources of durable genetic resistance to late blight and conservation of the Mexican potato germ-plasm by the national potato program. Module 3 deals with support of basic research on the etiology of P. infestans, with special emphasis on the A2 mating type as well as studies on genetic structure of populations, epidemiology and biological control of P. infestans. Module 4 distributes new potato cultivars with durable resistance and studies their impact on sustainable agriculture via small subsistence farming. And, Module 5 focuses on establishment of standardized international field trials to facilitate evaluation and accelerate worldwide introduction of new potato cultivars with durable resistance.

In eastern Europe the projects focus on development of evaluation methods for late blight resistance; assessment, comparison and analysis of breeding achievements; comparison of naturally occurring P. infestans populations and resistance evaluation results; and exchange of cultivars most resistant to late blight. Such materials have already been exchanged among Russia, Poland, Mexico and the USA. Resistant materials identified through these efforts will aid in the development of durable resistance to late blight. In Russia, studies on the pathogen are revealing important differences in mating types of the pathogen and its resistance to the fungicide Metalxyl. Such findings are important to the development of integrated control programs.

In the USA, CEEM facilitates basic research in all areas. This includes pathogen characterization, the soil ecology of P. infestans, the epidemiological role of oospores, population structure, breeding, evaluating the durability of "resistant' cultivars/breeding lines, pathogen diversity for biologically important traits, and developing integrated management strategies. Other activities such as training, workshops or conferences are also important.

These collaborative projects are now fostering high priority research and is enhancing communications between all stakeholders. CEEM continues to assist, promote and catalyze technology transfer, focusing on areas where there is great need and potential impact. While it is too early to document the impact of CEEM, the specific outcomes expected are many, and include:

1. Facilitation of cooperation and research on late blight at an international level;

2. Establishment of a clearing house mechanism that provides current data and information to participating members on late blight management;

3. Increasing the absorptive capacity of national programs to acquire, transfer and adopt new control components;

4. Training of core national scientists and policy makers to pursue late blight-specific research at Cornell and with private sector and public sector institutions in industrial countries;

5. Strengthening of both basic and applied research at Cornell, eastern Europe and Mexico;

6. Transferring Cornell's expertise to eastern Europe, the Newly Independent States (NIS), and Mexico;

7. Implementation of a few carefully thought out projects which will serve as a demonstration model for effective late blight control;

8. Establishment of a international advisory committee which will promote late blight research worldwide;

9. Creation of crosssector institutional linkages through the establishment of new mechanisms for late blight management and technology transfer between the private and public sectors;

10. Adoption of improved management strategies to combat late blight and thereby increase potato productivity, particularly for poor farmers.

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