EAST LANSING, Mich. — A team of 39 scientists from 14 countries has released a draft of the genetic structure of the potato, offering hope of improving the production and nutritional value of one of the world’s leading foods.

The Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium began work in 2006 and has institutions in Argentina, Britain, China, India, Ireland, Poland, Russia, the U.S. and elsewhere.

Michigan State University genetics scientist Robin Buell said Thursday the potato is the second leading food crop with its genome mapped after rice. Work on maize is nearly done.

Farmers worldwide produced 309 million tons of potatoes in 2007.

The genome has 840 million base pairs, 25 percent the size of the human genome. The draft covers 95 percent of potato genes.

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