Cultivated Potato Germplasm Collection

The genebank at the International Potato Center (CIP) began with a donation from the Peruvian National Potato Program of approximately 1,800 potato accessions comprising traditional cultivars. The collection was placed in the CIP Huancayo Experimental Station of Santa Ana-INIA Huancayo. The initial focus on the germplasm collection was to eliminate mixtures, atypical plants and plants with virus symptoms. Among the 45 years of existence of the potato genebank the number of cultivated potato accessions peaked at 17,347 accessions. After extensive research involving the identification and removal of duplicates, the active cultivated potato collection now total 4,870 accessions including 4,467 traditional landrace cultivars from 17 countries (mainly from the Andean region) and improved varieties. The entire clonal collection is conserved in vitro and distributed internationally as tissue cultured materials. The improved varieties comprise released varieties mainly by Latin-American countries and genetic stocks used to identify resistance to diseases (late blight, bacterial wild). This Global collection is maintained In Trust and is distributed with the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) under the terms of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).  All accessions in the collection are maintained and available for use in research, breeding and training by humanity now, and into the future.

Ongoing activities

  • Management of data includes annual updating and confirmation of species designation (based on Hawkes 1990) and morphological characterization of field plants.
  • Development of interactive methods for conserving ex situ and in situ resources for:

    (i) Strengthening the sustainable management of potato biodiversity in farmer’s fields through participatory activities for the maintenance of diversity and mitigation of risks from climate change, pest and diseases. These activities are done in close collaboration with the Andean farmers and communities in the Peruvian highlands.

    (ii) Strengthening the dynamic conservation of genetic resources through:

      • a) The development of conservation strategies combining traditional practices and modern science to improve the management of biodiversity by farmers
      • b) The identification of micro-centers of genetic diversity in need of conservation.

    (iii) Strengthening the production of disease and insect clean tuber-seed by Andean farmers to benefit the families and communities.

    (iv) Increasing genetic richness in the ex situ collection through the interaction with the farmers.  For example, over 200 cultivated potato landraces containing alleles not present in CIP’s collection have been shared by the farmers in Parque de la Papa and have been introduced into the CIP collection.

    (v) Capacity building of farmer communities to re-enforce long-term conservation strategies. Under a collaborative project between the NGO “Asociación ANDES”, “Asociación del Parque de la Papa” and CIP, farmers have produced true (botanical) potato seed from their traditional cultivars which is now safely backed up in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault for the long-term conservation of these genetic resources for these Andean communities.

  • Initially, potato germplasm was conserved in the field however for over 30 years, these accessions have been maintained in vitro for clonal conservation. These plants are continually reevaluated to ensure accurate morphological, taxonomic and cytogenetic characterization to identify duplicates and verify identity.
  • Cryopreservation (see cryopreservation) of the potato collection is now routinely done with over 450 new accessions entered into long-term cryopreservation per year.

Taxonomic classification (according to Hawkes 1990) of the traditional cultivated potato germplasm along with ploidy and the number of accessions.

Species Species acronym Ploidy Number of Accessions
Solanum stenotomum subsp. stenotomum stn 2x 289
Solanum stenotomum subsp. goniocalyx gon 2x 102
Solanum phureja phu 2x 206
Solanum ×ajanhuiri ajh 2x 14
Solanum sp. hyb 2x, 4x 235
Solanum ×juzepczuckii juz 3x 36
Solanum ×chaucha cha 3x 121
Solanum tuberosum subsp. andigenum adg 4x 3233
Solanum tuberosum subsp. tuberosum tbr 4x 179
Solanum ×curtilobum cur 5x 6

Collaboration with NASA develop project


Julian Soto
Potato Curator