Wild Relatives of Potato

Potato is an essential crop for food, culture and the economies of Andean countries and the world. Although there is little documentation of the exact route of introduction of potatoes to Europe, it is believed that potatoes were first introduced in the region of Seville, Spain, as there are hospital records showing acquisition of potatoes in 1573 (Hawkes 1990). It is assumed that from the introduction in Spain, potatoes were transported by different routes and subsequently adapted to other continents (Africa, Asia, and Australia) as a staple crop.

The cultivated potato is native to South America, and its centers of origin and diversity are located in the Andes mountain. The Collao plateau, the watershed basin of Titicaca Lake, with the corresponding territories of Peru and Bolivia are believed to be potato’s primary center of origin and diversity. Other secondary centers of diversity are southern Bolivia, northern Argentina, Pasco’s Knot Peru, Loja’s knot, Ecuador and Peru; volcanic complex of Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Cotopaxi in Ecuador and the nude asture in Colombia. These geographic areas were involved in the interaction of potato cultivation with early human cultures, a reliance that extends to the present day in many Andean indigenous communities . The geographical range of wild potato species is highly varied. North America: Mexico (MEX), United States (USA); Central America: Costa Rica (CTR), Guatemala(GUA), Honduras (HON), Panama (PAN); and South America: Argentina (ARG), Bolivia (BOL), Brazil (BRA), Chile (CHL), Colombia(COL), Ecuador(ECU), Paraguay(PAR), Peru (PER), Uruguay (URY) and Venezuela (VEN). These 16 countries all have native wild potato species. Many investigators (Bukasov, Hawkes, Vargas, Ochoa, Spooner, Salas) have used a variety of methods which indicated that the ancestor of the cultivated potato are the Andean wild species which are widely distributed throughout the Andes. The long-term conservation of these species is done with botanical seed which involves the collection, processing, regeneration, conservation and distribution of seed.

The number of wild potatoes species (according to Hawkes 1990) by country of origin

The number of wild potatoes by country of origin, Series, Species, Natural Hybrids Typified and Endemism.
Country Number of Accessions Number of Serial Number of Species Number endemic species HNT* Endemic*
ARGENTINA 171 6 18 8 6 5
BOLIVIA 674 6 27 15 6 5
BRASIL 6 2 2 0 1 1
CHILE 6 3 2 1 0 0
COLOMBIA 117 3 11 5 0 0
COSTA RICA 22 1 22 0 0 0
ECUADOR 187 5 13 6 1 1
GUATEMALA 16 4 4 0 0 0
HONDURAS 1 3 2 0 0 0
MEXICO 203 11 22 16 2 2
PANAMA 6 1 2 0 0 0
PARAGUAY 25 2 2 0 0 0
PERU 2511 10 78 69 5 5
URUGUAY 52 2 2 0 0 0
UNITED STATE 28 2 2 0 0 0
VENEZUELA 27 1 3 0 0 0
*Natural Hybrids Typified
The number of wild potatoes by country of origin, Series, Species, Natural Hybrids Typified and Endemism.
Total accessions conserved at Genebank.
Serie Acronym Number of accessions Number of species Nº Acc. ploidy x2* Nº Acc. ploidy x3* Nº Acc. ploidy x4* Nº Acc. ploidy x5* Nº Acc. ploidy x6*
ACAULIA Bitter. ACA 438 3 0 0 1 0 2
BULBOCASTANA (Rydb.) Hawkes. BUL 14 2 2 0 0 0 0
COMMERSONIANA Bukasov. COM 43 1 1 0 0 0 0
CONICIBACCATA Bitter. CON 287 35 18 0 15 0 2
CUNEOALATA Hawkes. CUN 33 4 4 0 0 0 0
INGIFOLIA Ochoa. ING 25 6 6 0 0 0 0
IOPETALA IPT 22 4 0 0 0 0 4
LIGNICAULIA Hawkes. LIG 9 1 1 0 0 0 0
LONGIPEDICELLATA Bukasow. LON 52 2 0 0 2 0 0
MEGISTACROLOBA Cardenas & Hawkes. MEG 175 7 7 0 0 0 0
MORELLIFORMIA Hawkes. MOR 4 2 2 0 0 0 0
PINNATISECTA (Rydby) Hawkes. PIN 6 2 2 0 0 0 0
PIURANA Ochoa. (PIU) PIU 63 11 11 0 0 0 0
POLYADENIA Bukasov & Correll. POL 8 2 2 0 0 0 0
SIMPLICISSIMA Ochoa SIM 5 2 2 0 0 0 0
STENOPHYLLIDIA STP 10 3 3 0 0 0 0
TRIFIDA Correll. TRI 5 2 2 0 0 0 0
TUBEROSA (Rydb.) Hawkes. TUB 1072 57 53 2 2 0 0
VERRUCOSA VER 9 1 1 0 0 0 0
YUNGASENSA Correll. YUN 81 4 4 0 0 0 0

* Number of accesions by ploidy

Contact

Dave Ellis
Wild Potato Curator (Acting)
d.ellis@cgiar.org

Alberto Salas
Wild Potato Curator (Consultant)
CIP-Genebank1@cgiar.org