Researchers chart the potato’s lineage to reveal historic hybridization events

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In Virginia, a team of researchers has charted the potato’s lineage in order to learn how the potato was domesticated and how its DNA evolved over time. Domesticated between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago from a wild species native to the Andes Mountains in southern Peru, Spanish conquistadors are believed to have transported the rugged root-like vegetable across the Atlantic during the 16th century.
In order to learn more about this crop, the third most important grown for direct human consumption, the team examined wild and cultivated species, including potatoes found in South American markets, domestic North American varieties, and landraces, which are cultivated potatoes analogous to heirloom breeds.
Then, using modern genomic approaches, the researchers sought to provide insight into genomic diversity, to reveal historic hybridization events, and to identify genes targeted during domestication that control the variance for agricultural traits – all of which are vital to food security.
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