, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 29-40

Biological containment of potato (Solanum tuberosum): outcrossing to the related wild species black nightshade (Solanum nigrum) and bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara)

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Abstract

The biological containment of the potato (Solanum tuberosum) was assessed by establishing the crossability of this tuberous crop with the related wild non-tuberous species in The Netherlands, black nightshade (S. nigrum) and bittersweet (S. dulcamara). To circumvent crossability barriers, genotypes with different ploidy number were employed and crosses were performed under different environmental conditions. S. dulcamara was shown to be incongruent with potato at all ploidy levels, while S. nigrum displayed unilateral incompatibility. If S. nigrum was emasculated and used as female, fertilization by potato pollen resulted in berry set and seed development. Emasculation of S. nigrum was essential in this cross, because analysis of the fertilization process demonstrated that this species is highly self-compatible and potato pollen was outcompeted by pollen of S. nigrum. The hybrid seeds derived from this cross did not mature and appeared not to be viable. By application of the technique of embryo rescue of immature embryos, hybrid plants could be obtained. However, these hybrid plants proved to be sterile. These data demonstrate that gene flow by pollen dispersal from potato to its most common wild relatives in Western Europe is highly unlikely. The potato is thus a naturally contained species in this part of the world.