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Ongoing evolution of the potato on the altiplano of western Bolivia

Abstract

This investigation of the biological and cultural factors determining evolution of the potato in the Andes focused on a hybrid swarm comprising weeds and cultivated forms of Solanum x ajanhuiri. Three species of bee visitors were likely pollinators of potato flowers in altiplano fields. Mapping and statistical analyses of the juxtaposition of weed and cultivated diploid potatoes indicated situations where insectmediated hybridization between cultivated and noncultivated taxa was likely. Folk belief that a valley in the Department of La Paz, Bolivia, was the source of the important cultivar, ajawiri, is supported by the variety of weeds of S x ajanhuiri from this site that show cultivated characteristics. Farming practices of Aymara subsistence cultivators should facilitate the introduction of genetic recombinants into cultivated gene pools. Although evidence is presented that humans have directed potato evolution on a small scale, it is most likely that the domestication process has always been passive in its essential aspects. Human intervention may be more deliberate during times of crop failure.

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Johns, T., Keen, S.L. Ongoing evolution of the potato on the altiplano of western Bolivia. Econ Bot 40, 409–424 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02859652

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02859652

Keywords

  • Economic Botany
  • Potato Seed
  • Wild Potato
  • Potato Species
  • Diploid Potato