SOLANUM POLYADENIUM TO SOLANUM TUBEROSUM
In 1949, I got an UNESCO Fellowship to study genetics in the Netherlands. The UNESCO Fellowship was to work for nine months at the Wageningen Agricultural University. I was asked by the people at the Directorate General (Ministry) of Foreign Affairs to continue my research on potato. This was just after World War II, and there was lot of damage to the agriculture of the Netherlands. Potato had been the mainstay of the people in Europe during the war and the need for producing more potato led to the abandoning of traditional crop rotations. This had given rise to a parasitic worm problem, the golden nematode, which became serious in the polder lands (lands reclaimed from the sea). The Dutch always say, ‘God made the earth, but the Dutch made the Netherlands’, largely because of the polder lands.
Professor Dorst, Head of the Plant Breeding Institute as well as the Rector-Magnificus of the Agricultural University, endorsed the idea that I should work on breeding varieties of potato for golden nematode resistance and I was given facilities in the laboratory of Professor R. Prakken, Dean of the Department of Genetics. The only way to breed varieties while resisting the golden nematode was to cross the cultivated potato with resistant wild species. There was one species called Solanum polyadenium which was resistant to the golden nematode, and after much effort I succeeded in standardising procedures for transferring genes from a wide range of Solanum polyadenium to the cultivated potato, Solanum tuberosum.