Wild Relatives of Potato

Crop wild relatives represent a diverse gene pool which can contribute beneficial traits such as resistances to biotic and abiotic factors for crop improvement. The genetic erosion and loss of habitat of the wild relatives that has occurred as the human population grows and expands, makes it even more important to preserve theses wild relatives in genebanks before they are permanently lost.

The genebank from the International Potato Center (CIP) maintains 1,092 wild accessions corresponding to 67 species from 19 countries, conserved as seed in -20°C cold chambers. This includes the Batatas Series which consists of 13 species. A safety duplicate of accessions with a large quantity of seed is also kept at Svalbard (Global Seed Vault).

Seed regeneration of wild sweetpotato is governed by a few fundamental principles of ensuring distribution, maintaining allelic Diversity, and characterization. Flower formation of sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. and the wild relatives is challenging because it is dependent on the latitude, flowering can vary widely with seasons from poor to abundant, and some accessions produce little or no flowers like I. ramossisima, I. tiliaceae, I. tabascana. It is therefore necessary to induce flowering for the regeneration process to obtain seeds. The process of flowering induction include a short photoperiod, slight humidity, use of certain chemicals, use of various Ipomoea rootstocks, or proper nutrition to promote flower induction.