Navigation Links
Finding rewrites the evolutionary history of the origin of potatoes

Humans have cultivated potatoes for millennia, but there has been great controversy about the ubiquitous vegetable's origins. This week, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, a team led by a USDA potato taxonomist stationed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has for the first time demonstrated a single origin in southern Peru for the cultivated potato.

The scientists analyzed DNA markers in 261 wild and 98 cultivated potato varieties to assess whether the domestic potato arose from a single wild progenitor or whether it arose multiple times - and the results were clear, says David Spooner, the USDA research scientist who led the study.

"In contrast to all prior hypotheses of multiple origins of the cultivated potato, we have identified a single origin from a broad area of southern Peru," says Spooner, who is also a UW-Madison professor of horticulture. "The multiple-origins theory was based in part on the broad distribution of potatoes from north to south across many different habitats, through morphological resemblance of different wild species to cultivated species, and through other data. Our DNA data, however, shows that in fact all cultivated potatoes can be traced back to a single origin in southern Peru."

The earliest archaeological evidence suggests that potatoes were domesticated from wild relatives by indigenous agriculturalists more than 7,000 years ago, says Spooner. Today, the potato - an international dietary staple - is a major crop in both the United States and in Wisconsin, which is fourth in the nation for potato production.

Potato diseases such as late blight can cause significant economic damage to farmers in America and throughout the world.

"As a taxonomist, my job is to help determine what is a species and to classify those species into related groups," Spooner explains. "Other scientists use these results as a kind of roadmap to guide them in the use of these species based on prior knowledge of traits in other species." Spooner spends about two months each year trekking through the mountains of South America, collecting and identifying wild potatoes and researching them.

"When researchers discover an important trait - for example, that a certain species is resistant to disease - then everything related to that species becomes potentially useful," Spooner says. "We can screen samples to see if related germplasm has similar resistance, in which case we may be able to guide plant breeders to germplasm to use in breeding programs."

And beyond the agricultural benefits, Spooner's study has helped to rewrite a small but important chapter of evolutionary history.

"Books are written about questions of how crops originate," he says. "Sometimes statements are repeated so often that they are accepted as fact. This is a way to get people to reconsider long-held assumptions of the origin of the potato, and stimulate us to reconsider the origins of other crops using new methods."

Spooner's collaborators included colleagues from the Genome Dynamics Programme at the Scottish Crop Research Institute in Scotland. The work was supported financially by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, and by the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department.


Source:University of Wisconsin-Madison

Related biology news :

1. Finding Cures For Tropical Diseases: Is Open Source An Answer?
2. Fundamental Finding Yields Insight into Stem Cells, Cancer; Opens Door to Drug Discovery
3. Findings have implications for tracking disease, drugs at the molecular level
4. Finding hidden invaders in a Hawaiian rain forest
5. New Finding May Aid Adult Stem Cell Collection
6. Finding the minds eye
7. Findings advance use of adult stem cells for replacement bone
8. Finding a virus is not all bad news
9. Finding a better way to make biodiesel
10. Finding paves way for better treatment of autoimmune disease
11. Finding the right mix: A biomaterial blend library
Post Your Comments:

(Date:6/21/2016)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia , June 21, 2016 ... been appointed to the new role of principal ... has been named the director of customer development. ... , NuData,s chief technical officer. The moves reflect ... development teams in response to high customer demand ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... , June 16, 2016 ... size is expected to reach USD 1.83 billion ... Grand View Research, Inc. Technological proliferation and increasing ... applications are expected to drive the market growth. ... , The development of advanced multimodal ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud to ... hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually signing in, and ... ... ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... innovative medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The company's primary ... various distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to help companies ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016  Liquid Biotech ... funding of a Sponsored Research Agreement with The ... cells (CTCs) from cancer patients.  The funding will ... levels correlate with clinical outcomes in cancer patients ... will then be employed to support the design ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016  Regular discussions on a range of subjects including ... two entities said Poloz. Speaking at a lecture ... , he pointed to the country,s inflation target, which is ... "In certain areas there ... common economic goals, why not sit down and address strategy ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use the ... models are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. ... the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent flow ...
Breaking Biology Technology: