Tayside and Central Scotland

Potential 'Achilles heel' for potato blight discovered

Potato blight Image copyright Picasa
Image caption Potato blight causes billions of pounds worth of damage every year

A potential "Achilles heel" for potato blight has been discovered following a collaboration between scientists in Dundee and China.

They have identified a potato enzyme that, if removed, could prevent the fungal disease taking hold.

Potato blight is a global problem with associated costs estimated at $6bn (£4.1bn) every year.

Dundee University and the James Hutton Institute have been studying the disease with colleagues in China.

Blight was the cause of the Irish potato famine in the 19th Century and remains a major problem around the world.

Prof Paul Birch, who works at both the institute and university's division of plant sciences, said the discovery created a "new avenue" to explore a potato crop that could be resistant to the disease.

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