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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » Vegetable Crops Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #338250

Research Project: Potato Genetic Resource Management, Characterization, and Evaluation

Location: Vegetable Crops Research

Title: Extra soil fertilization of mother plants increases botanical seed yield but not long-term germination in wild Solanum (potato) species

item Bamberg, John
item FERNANDEZ, C - University Of Wisconsin
item DEL RIO, A - University Of Wisconsin

Submitted to: American Journal of Potato Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/12/2017
Publication Date: 7/19/2017
Citation: Bamberg, J., Fernandez, C., del Rio, A. 2017. Extra soil fertilization of mother plants increases botanical seed yield but not long-term germination in wild Solanum (potato) species. American Journal of Potato Research.

Interpretive Summary: Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is the most important vegetable crop in the US and world, and has a rich resource of about 100 wild relative species that can be used for breeding and research to improve the crop. Our national genebank responsible for keeping this resource is the US Potato Genebank, near Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Part of the mission of the genebank is to replenish seed stocks as needed by crossing among parent plants in the greenhouse. In 1987, such a seed multiplication was done for 127 population for which half of the mother plants were fed weekly with extra fertilizer, and resulting seeds stored in optimum conditions. Seeds from mother plants given extra fertilizer produced an average of about double the seeds of their unfertilized counterparts, but after 19 and 26 years of storage, those seeds had no better germination. Standard fertilization apparently produces seeds of optimum quality, but extra fertilizer greatly increases the quantity of seed produced. Seed multiplication is a major expense in time and money for the genebank. This technique of a cheap weekly dose of extra fertilizer will greatly increase genebank efficiency.

Technical Abstract: Potato has about 100 wild species relatives that are multiplied in the form of botanical seed populations by genebanks, and distributed for use in research and breeding, so factors that affect long term seed germination are of interest. In 1987 the US Potato Genebank conducted routine seed multiplication on 127 populations of 31 species as greenhouse-grown potted plants. Half of the parent plants in each population were given a weekly dose of liquid fertilizer in addition to the standard slow-release granular fertilizer which had been mixed into the medium for all plants. Plants with this extra liquid fertilizer application grew larger, and produced significantly more fruit, and seeds. However, seeds from parents fertilized extra did not have improved seed weight or germination after 26 years of storage. We conclude that optimizing the fertilizer regime used on parent plants, while doubling the average seed yield, does not result in higher quality seeds.