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Environment & Climate Change

This MSU professor is leading the quest for a better potato

Dave Douches shows some of his potato memorabilia.
User: Betsy Agosta
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The StateNews

A salute, now, to the potato.

This is National Potato Month. Many of the potatoes that make their way onto America's dinner plates, into French fries or into potato chip bags come from Michigan. 

There's some pretty interesting research and development happening right now, all focused on the honest, humble potato.

We found out more from the man known on the Michigan State campus as "Mr. Potato Prof."

David Douches heads up MSU's Potato Breeding and Genetics Program. He says young people nowadays are driving some of the changes in potato consumption habits.

"The big sit-down dinner with baked potatoes is not what people are looking for today but more of something they can cook up quickly but still give them some good taste," says Douches.

As Douches breeds new types of potatoes, he and his research team are able to take advantage of biotechnology and apply it to the genetic improvement of potatoes.

Some of his students' works focus on areas like late blight resistance or drought tolerance to help fight hunger around the world.

"Potato is one of those crops that we need to get our calories on the plate. So it becomes a good base for diet," says Douches.

* Listen to our conversation with David Douches above.

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