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The Enigma of Solanum maglia in the Origin of the Chilean Cultivated Potato, Solanum tuberosum Chilotanum Group

Spooner, David, Jansky, Shelley, Clausen, Andrea, Herrera, Maria del Rosario, Ghislain, Marc
Economic botany 2012 v.66 no.1 pp. 12
Solanum maglia, Solanum tuberosum subsp. andigenum, deserts, genes, grains, hybridization, landraces, loci, lowlands, microsatellite repeats, plastid DNA, potatoes, provenance, starch, Andes region, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela
Landrace potato cultivars occur in two broad geographic regions: the high Andes from western Venezuela south to northern Argentina (Solanum tuberosum Andigenum Group, “Andigenum”), and lowland south-central Chile (S. tuberosum Chilotanum Group, “Chilotanum”), with a coastal desert and 560 km between southernmost populations of Andigenum and Chilotanum. Unlike Andigenum landraces, Chilotanum landraces are adapted to long days and carry a 241 base pair plastid DNA deletion. However, Andigenum and Chilotanum landraces are morphologically similar. We investigated a hypothesis that Chilotanum landraces arose from Solanum maglia, a rare tuber-bearing species found in Chile and Argentina. This hypothesis was formulated first based on morphological analyses of starch grains of extant and preserved (12,500 years before present) S. maglia, and on putative sympatry of extant S. maglia and Chilotanum landraces. Our new starch grain analyses fail to support this hypothesis; we could find no evidence of current sympatric distributions, and S. maglia lacks the 241-bp plastid deletion. However, microsatellite data group all accessions of S. maglia exclusively with Chilotanum, which is supported by our previous observation at the single locus of the waxy gene. These results could be interpreted in various ways, but all explanations have problems. One explanation is that S. maglia is a progenitor of Chilotanum. However, the plastid deletion in Chilotanum but not S. maglia cannot be easily explained. Another explanation is that Chilotanum was formed by hybridization between S. maglia and pre-Chilotanum, but this conflicts with prior cladistic analyses. These new data shed light on aspects of this question and highlight various evolutionary scenarios, but the origin of Chilotanum and the involvement of S. maglia in its origin remain an enigma.