Complex evolutionary history and targets of domestication in the cultivated potato

Potatoes originated in the Andes of southern Peru, and are now the third most important crop for direct human consumption. Hardigan et al. sequenced 67 potato relatives, including South American landraces, North American cultivars and wild-diploid species to learn about the genetics of modern potato’s domestication. They identified genes associated with key domestication events including “enlarged tubers, tuber-specific reduction of harmful glycoalkaloids, adaptation to a long-day photoperiod, and reduced sexual fertility.” They found that potatoes  have the highest genetic diversity of any sequenced crop, and suggest that the extensive genetic diversity available in wild populations will be useful for crop improvement. (Summary by Mary Williams) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA  10.1073/pnas.1714380114