Skip to comments.Researchers Have Finally Solved The Mystery Of The Irish Potato Famine
Posted on 05/24/2013 9:45:13 AM PDT by blam
Researchers Have Finally Solved The Mystery Of The Irish Potato Famine
Denise Chow, LiveScience
May 24, 2013, 12:03 PM
The Irish potato famine that caused mass starvation and approximately 1 million deaths in the mid-19th century was triggered by a newly identified strain of potato blight that has been christened "HERB-1," according to a new study.
An international team of molecular biologists studied the historical spread of Phytophthora infestans, a funguslike organism that devastated potato crops and led to the famine in Ireland. The precise strain of the pathogen that caused the devastating outbreak, which lasted from 1845 to 1852, had been unknown.
"We have finally discovered the identity of the exact strain that caused all this havoc," study co-author Hernán Burbano, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany, said in a statement. [Microscopic Worlds Gallery: Fascinating Fungi]
Previously, a Phytophthora strain called US-1 was thought to have triggered the potato famine, but by sequencing the genomes of preserved samples of the plant pathogen, the researchers discovered that a different strain one that is new to science was the real culprit.
"Both strains seem to have separated from each other only years before the first major outbreak in Europe," Burbano said.
The researchers studied 11 historic samples from potato leaves that were collected about 150 years ago in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europe and North America.
The scientists found these ancient samples, which were preserved at the Botanical State Collection Munich and the Kew Gardens in London, still had many intact pieces of DNA. In fact, the DNA quality was so good the researchers were able to sequence the entire genome of Phytophthora infestans and its host, the potato, within just a few weeks.
"The degree of DNA
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a true Irish meal (I’m German/Irish).
“was triggered by a newly identified strain of potato blight that has been christened “HERB-1,” according to a new study”
the famine was not caused by the potatoe blight
the same potatoe blight hit most of europe
but most of europe, though experiencing the great potatoe blight, did not experience the famine that Ireland did
British imperial policies toward Ireland created the conditions in Ireland from which the pototoe blight became so devastating in Ireland. Under British policies the potatoe, and mostly one single variety, was feeding 1/3 of the Irish population and many more were dependent on potatoe farming for income from domestic use, sale or export. Had Ireland been independent it would have had a diversified farming industry and the potatoe blight would have been no worse in Ireland than it was in the rest of Europe - a bad thing but not a famine.
I grew up on a potato farm in Idaho where the Burbank Russet was (and is) the primary variety grown. It's a clone too, and while several strains exist with varying disease resistance, the old-time Russets I grew up with are now under attack by various diseases. It's hard to find good Russets for baking these days. One day not long from now they'll disappear.
The French wine industry nearly collapsed in the 19th century when their varietal grapes fell victim to a plant pathogen introduced (they think) by an aphid native to the U.S. Their industry was saved by grafting the old varieties to resistant rootstock from the U.S. Today American agriculture is strongly dependent on cloned monocultured crops. It's good that seeds of old varieties are preserved in seed banks to reintroduce greater genetic variety in case of a calamity like the Irish suffered.
1) the population exploded because an acre of potatos provides 3 times the calories as an acre of wheat. Some suggest that the introduction of the potato made the industrial revolution possible - peasants could move off of the land into industrial locations and still be fed.
2. “Trinity” by Leon Uris describes the impact of the British laws in Ireland. For example, the law of inheritance was imposed which required equal division of a deceased father’s property among the children. This broke up Irish landowner’s holdings, and reduced the population to having small plots ... which grew potatos.
3. The vast tracts of land containing wheat and animals were owned by the British, which sold and exported them to London. However, even with the purest of intentions, it is not clear that there were enough calories in the food shipped to London to save the Irish population. And it is fairly clear that the British politicians did not really understand the magnitude of the problem until a majority of the population starved or emigrated.
You have to watch a TV Program named: "Single-Handed". I recently found it on Hulu Plus (Hulu Plus has a 14 day FREE TRIAL deal). It's a great show, especially if you're Irish . It's only Six Episodes but they're each an 1hr & 42min long.
Anyway, enjoy your trip to Galway and take a lot of pictures of the Countryside. But bring a warm jacket, sweater, raincoat and boots. Galway's weather is a bit on the wet & 'cool' side and it gets a tad muddy.
And because of watching that TV show I started doing a little search of my Irish family history and found 'My Clan', family crest, and its history. Turns out I come from/related to 'Irish Royalty' -- the last two Irish Kings in the 12th Century. After that Ireland's Kings were 'foreign invaders' and then Brits.
There must have been something climatological, political or something that happened around 1830. My ancestors from Ireland, Wales and Germany all came over then and my ancestors that had been here since 1626 moved from Maine to Illinois.
Yep, the British have done a complete turn around. Now they have laws that help the dregs of society to live off of and murder law it’s abiding citizens. Oh, wait, that also now applies to the USA. /s
Joyce Country. That’s where my great grandfather came from. Dress with layers to put on and to take off. Western Ireland is beautiful.
I hope it's as powerful an experience as it was for my brother. He took a month off when he retired and drove around Europe, making it down to Santander, Spain, where he went into the Birth Records office and was able to get the clerk to pull a copy of our grandfather's birth certificate (1882). Then he found the church where he was baptized and got a copy of his baptismal certificate. He said holding those two in his hands was an incredible experience.
He made copies for all four of us grandkids. :-)
Corned beef is too salty for my taste.
Low Sodium Corned Beef Brisket
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