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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Resources for the Genetic Improvement of Potato

Location: Vegetable Crops Research

Title: Are we getting better at using wild potato species in light of new tools?

item Bethke, Paul
item Halterman, Dennis
item Jansky, Shelley

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/6/2017
Publication Date: 3/1/2017
Citation: Bethke, P.C., Halterman, D.A., Jansky, S. 2017. Are we getting better at using wild potato species in light of new tools? Crop Science. 57(3):1241-1258. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2016.10.0889.

Interpretive Summary: Wild potato relatives carry an abundance of genes valuable for potato cultivar improvement. Some genes from a handful of species have been incorporated into potato cultivars. Opportunities exist to take advantage of new technologies to more efficiently identify valuable genes in potato relatives and move them into cultivars.

Technical Abstract: Potato, mankind’s third most consumed food crop, originated as an interspecific hybrid in the Andean highlands. Potato stocks across Europe and North America were devastated by late blight epidemics in the mid-19th century and most varieties were destroyed. Fortunately, late blight resistance was found in Solanum demissum and introgression of resistance genes into cultivated potato revitalized potato production. Thus, a precedent for the use of wild relatives in potato genetic improvement was established a century ago. Potato has approximately 100 wild relatives, most of which are maintained in public germplasm repositories. Genetic diversity within and between these species is high and over 70% of relatives are sexually compatible with cultivated potato. Perhaps more than any other vegetable crop, potato has the potential to benefit from introgression of genes that confer valuable traits from wild relatives. However, a century of breeding has realized that potential on only a few notable occasions. This observation indicates that substantial barriers prevent the facile incorporation of genetic material from wild relatives into potato. Overcoming these barriers may require an expansion of germplasm collections to include well-characterized individual genotypes as a complement to population-based accessions. To be most useful for potato improvement, individual wild species plants will need to be cataloged by allelic composition, haplotype, biochemical property or physiological response. Effectively utilizing the genetic diversity in wild relatives is likely to rely heavily on alternative methods of potato breeding, augmenting reassortment and selection at the tetraploid level with diploid breeding and genetic modification using biotechnology.

Last Modified: 09/21/2017
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