Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Genetics
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: November 11, 2011
Publication Date: May 5, 2013
Citation: Spooner, D.M. 2013. Solanum tuberosum (Potato). Encyclopedia of Genetics. In: Maloy, S.,Hughes, K. editors. Encyclopedia of Genetics, 2nd Edition. Philadelphia, PA:Elsevier Press. p. 481-483. Technical Abstract: Potato is the fourth most important food crop worldwide, with high value as a balanced and nutritious food. It is one of the world’s most productive crops. Wild potatoes are native from the southwestern United States to south-central Chile, with centers of species diversity in central Mexico and in the central Andes of Peru and Bolivia, while primitive cultivars (landraces) are native to South America. Potato landraces grow in two areas, one in a broad swath of the upland Andes from western Venezuela south to northern Argentina, and a second group in the lowlands of south-central Chile. There is a tremendous variation in chromosome numbers in wild species ranging from diploid to hexaploid (2n = 64) and in cultivated species from diploid to pentaploid (2n = 60). Wild potatoes are often intercrossable with the cultivated species. Potato cultivation is challenged by a variety of diseases and insect pests and environmental constraints, but the wild species and landraces are useful as breeding stock to combat these problems. Recent collecting and taxonomic studies have halved the number of recognized wild and cultivated species to a current estimate of four cultivated species and about 100 wild species. Potato first appeared outside of South America in Europe in 1567 and rapidly diffused worldwide. Our modern cultivars are today grown worldwide come from the Chilean landraces.