SOS call from Russia: save our spuds

July 28, 2000

Scientists from New York's Cornell University and Poland's Mlochow Research Centre are racing to rescue a unique Russian collection of potatoes that survived the siege of Leningrad but are falling victim to the country's economic crisis.

Some 10,000 individual strains are under threat in the decaying facilities of the N. I. Vavilov All-Russian Research Institute of Plant Industry in Pushkin and St Petersburg.

Many specimens have lost their ability to germinate, others are diseased and many are being attacked by pests. Scientists believe some of the potatoes may harbour genes that make them more resistant to diseases.

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