Skip to main content

Cold Hardiness Variation in Solanum jamesii and Solanum kurtzianum Tubers


The ability of potato tubers to tolerate cold temperatures could be useful for maintaining the quality of tuber seed used for growing the crop, preserving the crop in storage, and germplasm preservation. Previous work measured the limits of survival of tubers of numerous populations of the wild tuber-bearing potato species Solanum jamesii (jam), native to the southwest USA in terms of ability to sprout after a -15C cold challenge. In that study, nine cold sensitive populations and nine very hardy populations were identified. In the current study, these two sets of jam populations were multiplied under field and greenhouse conditions and cold challenged along with Solanum kurtzianum (ktz), a species much more easily used in cultivar breeding with potential for cold tolerance shown in previous experiments. The results of this study were similar to previous ones: Tubers of jam started to die at -15C, with field-grown tubers hardier than greenhouse-grown tubers. Tubers of populations previously observed to be slightly less cold tolerant were not significantly different in the current more systematic trial. We conclude that tubers of S. jamesii populations available from the US Potato Genebank are all similarly very cold hardy. Most tubers of the 80 ktz populations sprouted after cooling to -8C, identifying this species as an additional subject for research and breeding.


La capacidad de los tubérculos de papa para tolerar temperaturas frías podría ser útil para mantener la calidad del tubérculo-semilla utilizado para el cultivo, preservar el cultivo en almacenamiento y el germoplasma. Trabajos previos midieron los límites de supervivencia de tubérculos de numerosas poblaciones de la especie silvestre de papa tuberífera Solanum jamesii (jam), nativa del suroeste de los Estados Unidos en términos de capacidad para brotar después de un desafío de frío de -15C. En ese estudio, se identificaron nueve poblaciones sensibles al frío y nueve poblaciones muy resistentes. En el estudio actual, estos dos conjuntos de poblaciones de jam se multiplicaron en condiciones de campo e invernadero y se desafiaron en frío junto con Solanum kurtzianum (ktz), una especie mucho más fácil de usar en el mejoramiento de variedades con potencial de tolerancia al frío mostrado en experimentos anteriores. Los resultados de este estudio fueron similares a los anteriores: los tubérculos de jam comenzaron a morir a -15 °C, con tubérculos cultivados en el campo más resistentes que los tubérculos cultivados en invernadero. Sin embargo, la selección deliberada de poblaciones que previamente mostraban signos de ser relativamente susceptibles al frío no fue significativamente diferente de las poblaciones seleccionadas por mostrar previamente la mayor tolerancia al frío. Concluimos que los tubérculos de las poblaciones de S. jamesii disponibles en el Banco de Germoplasma de Papa de los Estados unidos son igualmente resistentes al frío. La mayoría de los tubérculos de las poblaciones de 80 ktz brotaron después de enfriarse a -8C, identificando esta especie como un tema adicional para investigación y mejoramiento.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2



US Potato Genebank


Germplasm Resources Information Network (


  • Bamberg, J.B., A.H. del Rio, C.J. Fernandez, and J.P. Palta. 2017. Solanum jamesii—New traits and hybrids. American Journal of Potato Research 94: 211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bamberg, J., K. Lombard, J.P. Palta, B.A. Workmaster, and A. Atucha. 2020. Survival of Solanum jamesii tubers at freezing temperatures. American Journal of Potato Research 97: 497–504.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • GRIN 2021. Germplasm Resources Information Network online database of the US National Plant Germplasm System. US Potato Genebank descriptors: Accessed 2/3/21.

  • Johnston, G.R., R.G. Rowberry, and J.F. Alex. 1983. Conestoga: A new early potato cultivar with very good table and chipping qualities. American Potato Journal 60: 193–197.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kinder, D.H., K.R. Adams, and H.J. Wilson. 2017. Solanum jamesii: Evidence for cultivation of wild potato tubers by ancestral Puebloan groups. Journal of Ethnobiology 37: 218–240.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments and Perspectives

We study potato tubers because they are the most important vegetable food humans eat. But the plant’s “interest” is in its own survival. Most plants survive cold and dry by producing seeds, but potatoes also have a system for clonal survival as tubers. For most potatoes, freezing soil thwarts that tuber backup plan, but some potatoes have overcome that limitation too, allowing them to survive in places where conditions needed for seed reproduction are unreliable. We thank Max Martin, Renee Sauer, and Nate Sele for technical excellence in designing the equipment and gathering the data, as well as the UW Peninsular Agricultural Research Station and NMSU Agricultural Experiment Station program and staff for their assistance.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to John Bamberg.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

Authors have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary Information


(DOCX 26 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bamberg, J., Lombard, K. Cold Hardiness Variation in Solanum jamesii and Solanum kurtzianum Tubers. Am. J. Potato Res. 99, 69–72 (2022).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Potato
  • Tuber freezing