Wild Potato Project

Wild potato species are not often cultivated and very little is known about most of them.  While they are often used in potato breeding, little effort has been put into improving them individually.

I think this is a great opportunity.  Anyone with interest could easily choose to adopt a wild potato species and become an expert on its cultivation and breeding.  By working on each species, it would be possible to produce improved varieties.  By improving size and reducing glycoalkaloid content, for example, it might be possible to introduce new species to more widespread cultivation.  Improved varieties might also be used more effectively to introduce traits through breeding with S. tuberosum.

The greatest barrier to this is simply figuring out where to start.  While there is abundant scientific literature about wild potato species, it is rarely summarized and is difficult for amateurs to access.  I started the wild potato project in 2015 with the goal of producing summary information about each species, growing them to determine the essential details of cultivation, and taking good pictures of each species (which are almost always more useful to amateurs than botanical descriptions).  I have since added the goal of making crosses, either directly or through bridge species, to S. tuberosum so that we can show what the results of first generation crosses look like.

This project is likely to take several years to complete, but I hope that when we’re done, we will have a small encyclopedia of wild species that will serve as a guide for amateur cultivation and breeding.

The project pages can currently be accessed through the following blog post.  The project will eventually have its own portal page, but this should be sufficient until the work is further along.

Potato: A Summary of Wild Species and Their Qualities

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