Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Using DNA, Scientists Hunt For The Roots Of The Modern Potato
Science Daily ^ | 2-4-2008 | University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Posted on 02/04/2008 10:46:04 AM PST by blam

Using DNA, Scientists Hunt For The Roots Of The Modern Potato

ScienceDaily (Feb. 4, 2008) — More than 99 percent of all modern potato varieties planted today are the direct descendants of varieties that once grew in the lowlands of south-central Chile. How Chilean germplasm came to dominate the modern potato-which spread worldwide from Europe-has been the subject of a long, contentious debate among scientists.

While some plant scientists have maintained that Chilean potatoes were the first to be planted in Europe, a more widely accepted story holds that European potatoes were originally descended from plants grown high in the Andes mountains between eastern Venezuela and northern Argentina. According to this theory, Andean potatoes were wiped out during the Great Irish Potato Famine, the 19th-century late-blight epidemic that devastated potato fields across Europe, initiating the import of Chilean varieties to re-establish the crop.

In a report published recently in the American Journal of Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Mercedes Ames and David Spooner say both theories are wrong. By analyzing the DNA of historical potato specimens, the researchers found that both Chilean and Andean potatoes were grown in Europe decades before and decades after the famine, the first direct evidence that the potatoes were grown simultaneously in Europe.

"Basically, we found that the Andean potatoes got to Europe first, around 1700. However, Chilean potatoes were starting to get popular there 34 years before the late blight epidemic," says Ames, a graduate student in UW-Madison's plant breeding and plant genetics program. The results also show that Andean potatoes grew as late as 1892 in Europe, proving they weren't polished off by the late blight epidemic-and that they grew side by side with Chilean potatoes for many decades before the Chilean types became dominant.

To start the project, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, Ames visited herbaria throughout Europe in search of early potato specimens. She requested hole-punch sized samples of dried leaf tissue from appropriate specimens be sent to Madison for study, eventually ending up with material from 64 potato plants grown between 1700 and 1910.

"Some of these samples were over 300 years old and not ideally preserved," says Spooner, a professor of horticulture and USDA researcher who is the paper's corresponding author. "It took considerable innovation for Mercedes to work out the correct technique to get DNA from them."

After successfully extracting DNA from 49 samples, Ames analyzed each using a DNA marker that distinguishes between upland Andean and lowland Chilean potato types. The result is a biochemical record of ancestry, which Spooner says adds hard evidence to a debate often premised on guesswork.

"The problem with these two theories is that they rely on inferences based on the morphology of old plant samples, as well as inferences based on historical records about day-length adaptation, shipping routes, and the role of the late blight epidemic," he says. "Our work is the first direct evidence-as opposed to the inferential evidence used in prior studies-on the origin of the European potato because the herbarium specimens we used are like fossils."

Spooner notes that this type of analysis could help set the record straight for many other crop species. "Potato is one of the prominent stories in crop evolution books," says Spooner. "Because of Mercedes's work, they're going to have to rewrite the textbooks."

Adapted from materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: asideoffries; dna; godsgravesglyphs; horticulture; potato; roots; scientists

1 posted on 02/04/2008 10:46:06 AM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv
GGG Ping.

Posted earlier.

Modern Potato Had Roots in Peru

2 posted on 02/04/2008 10:47:42 AM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

I thought the potato WAS the root.


3 posted on 02/04/2008 10:48:16 AM PST by VRWCmember (Romney 2008 - The most palatable RINO left in the race)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Wow, so I guess now that they’ve got cancer and AIDS cured, this is the next logical step for researchers.


4 posted on 02/04/2008 10:48:30 AM PST by domenad (In all things, in all ways, at all times, let honor guide me.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

potatoE! hehehe


5 posted on 02/04/2008 10:49:03 AM PST by nhoward14 (Disenfranchised by the MSM and by liberals/independents voting in Republican primaries.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Look no further!

heh.

-Joan

6 posted on 02/04/2008 10:51:29 AM PST by JoanVarga ("¿Por qué no te calles?")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

7 posted on 02/04/2008 10:54:29 AM PST by mmichaels1970
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam
Using DNA, Scientists Hunt For The Roots Of The Modern Potato

Just a suggestion, use a spade, or a digging fork works even better.

8 posted on 02/04/2008 10:55:47 AM PST by Dixie Yooper (Ephesians 6:11)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam
Solved.


9 posted on 02/04/2008 10:56:42 AM PST by PBRSTREETGANG
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Who's your Daddy?


10 posted on 02/04/2008 10:57:30 AM PST by billorites (Freepo ergo sum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: blam

bump


11 posted on 02/04/2008 10:58:18 AM PST by VOA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: VRWCmember

What is the root of the problem?


12 posted on 02/04/2008 11:01:13 AM PST by Disturbin (Liberals: buying votes with your money)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: domenad

There was a place where research was dictated by the government. They used to call it the Soviet Union.


13 posted on 02/04/2008 11:05:15 AM PST by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro; blam; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; ...

· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic ·

 
Gods
Graves
Glyphs
Thanks Blam. There's a famine of potato jokes. But anyway, I think the researchers are pulling my legume.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are Blam, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

· Google · Archaeologica · ArchaeoBlog · Archaeology magazine · Biblical Archaeology Society ·
· Mirabilis · Texas AM Anthropology News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo ·
· History or Science & Nature Podcasts · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·


14 posted on 02/04/2008 11:11:43 AM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/__________________Profile updated Wednesday, January 16, 2008)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: CarrotAndStick

Given that there are people who spend years analyzing the structure of the Starship Enterprise’s warp drives, translate the Bible into Klingon, and create an elven language and alphabet from Lord of the Rings excerpts, I suppose I can’t be surprised. Still, science is so chock full of amazing subjects that I wonder at the mindset of a guy researching a potato.


15 posted on 02/04/2008 11:42:12 AM PST by domenad (In all things, in all ways, at all times, let honor guide me.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: domenad
Wow, so I guess now that they’ve got cancer and AIDS cured, this is the next logical step for researchers.

Given that a larger portion of the population dies in a famine than dies of AIDS and cancer combined in the good times, I'd hazard that knowing the cultivars is a good idea...

16 posted on 02/04/2008 11:43:15 AM PST by null and void (Conservatism. It's the new Black...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: domenad

BTW, may I ask what you do for a living?


17 posted on 02/04/2008 11:44:23 AM PST by null and void (Conservatism. It's the new Black...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: domenad

Many times useful inventions and discoveries have been made by unintended research. I wanted to point that out, earlier.


18 posted on 02/04/2008 11:47:02 AM PST by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Dixie Yooper
"Just a suggestion, use a spade, or a digging fork works even better."

Good suggestion, but unfortunately the guy's name is Spooner...
19 posted on 02/04/2008 11:54:52 AM PST by Hegemony Cricket (IX-XI -- numquam didici)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Hegemony Cricket

Then he could use a dade or spigging fork...


20 posted on 02/04/2008 11:57:30 AM PST by null and void (Conservatism. It's the new Black...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: CarrotAndStick
"Many times useful inventions and discoveries have been made by unintended research."

True that. You won't stumble across many new things sitting around on your couch, but in the course of "wandering aimlessly about", you might kick up something useful...
21 posted on 02/04/2008 12:00:14 PM PST by Hegemony Cricket (IX-XI -- numquam didici)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: null and void

Hehehe - nice catch! :-)


22 posted on 02/04/2008 12:00:58 PM PST by Hegemony Cricket (IX-XI -- numquam didici)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: null and void

“Then he could use a dade or spigging fork”
or a spud spork!


23 posted on 02/04/2008 12:09:14 PM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: blam

Imagine the Irish without their potato and the Italians without their tomato and they both came from the New World.


24 posted on 02/04/2008 12:16:04 PM PST by fish hawk (The religion of Darwinism = Monkey Intellect)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: fish hawk

Imagine no chocolate!


25 posted on 02/04/2008 12:28:34 PM PST by null and void (Conservatism. It's the new Black...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: null and void

No Way!! am I going to try to imagine that. LOL


26 posted on 02/04/2008 12:29:56 PM PST by fish hawk (The religion of Darwinism = Monkey Intellect)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Hegemony Cricket
Good suggestion, but unfortunately the guy's name is Spooner

Yet another thread I posted on without reading the article...

27 posted on 02/04/2008 12:46:42 PM PST by Dixie Yooper (Ephesians 6:11)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: fish hawk
"Imagine the Irish without their potato and the Italians without their tomato and they both came from the New World."

Marco Polo brought noodles back from China. What did they eat before? lol.

28 posted on 02/04/2008 2:03:26 PM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: blam
Wouldn't it be great to have a job where all you have to worry about is where potatoes came from?
29 posted on 02/04/2008 2:15:04 PM PST by Vinnie (You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Jihads You)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Plain Garlic I guess.


30 posted on 02/04/2008 2:17:25 PM PST by fish hawk (The religion of Darwinism = Monkey Intellect)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Vinnie
"Wouldn't it be great to have a job where all you have to worry about is where potatoes came from?"

Or, no job at all, like me.

31 posted on 02/04/2008 2:18:06 PM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: blam

And me. Though I do put in some job time. Grudgingly.


32 posted on 02/04/2008 2:37:55 PM PST by Vinnie (You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Jihads You)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: blam
Posted earlier.

The strange thing is that the earlier thread, based on research from the same guy, Spooner, contradicts what he said here. In the old story he said they came from Peru, here he says they came from Chile.

33 posted on 02/07/2008 10:11:44 PM PST by Lucius Cornelius Sulla (Mike Huckabee: If Gomer Pyle and Hugo Chavez had a love child this is who it would be.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Lucius Cornelius Sulla

Yes, me too. I still say they are from Peru.


34 posted on 02/08/2008 6:39:58 AM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson