History & current projects

The UACh Potato Genebank – facts & perspectives out of one of the Centres of Origin of the S. tuberosum potato.

Chile is a very rich country in genetic resources. One of the Chilean treasures is the Potato Genebank at the Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh), who contains the major national collection of native potatoes. A big importance has the S. tuberosum subsp. tuberosum collected on the Chilean Island named Chiloé.

The main goal of the UACh Potato Genebank is the preservation of the genetic diversity of Solanum spp., promoting the development of new cultivars with adaptation on new agroecological areas and/or agronomic conditions.

The Potato Genebank has a base collection, an active collection and a working collection and was started in 1941 by Alvaro Montaldo and maintained at Centinela by the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture until 1958 where the Universidad Austral de Chile took the responsibility of the maintenance.

All potato accessions maintained at the Genebank was collected in Chile. Different potato series and species were collected from the Andes to the coast, from the North to the South. Up today, there are up to 519 accessions classified in 3 different series maintained at the base collection: Serie  Juglandifolia: S. lycopersicoides and S. sitiens (ex. rickii), Serie Etoberosa: S. palustre (ex. brevidens), S. etuberosum &, S. fernandezianum, and Serie Tuberosa: S. tuberosum ssp. Tuberosum, S. tuberosum ssp. andígena . S. maglia & S.sp. A high percentage of the varieties worldwide today have their ancestors in Chilean genetic resources as Rough Purple of Chile, via Garnet Chili, Early Rose, Late Rose, Daber, etc.

The accessions at the Genebank possess different ploidy, predominantly 4x, 3x and 2x.

A high number of resistances to pests are found at the working collection. For example, there were found 19 clones of S. tbr. with resistant to PVX, 16 clones showed resistance to PVY and 5 clones to PVLR, as well as S. maglia showed resistance to PVA, PVX and PVY. Also, resistances to nematodes (Meloydogine sp.) where found in 122 S. tbr. clones of the Genebank.

The conservation of the germplasm of the base collection was done as TPS (-18°C), part of it are in vitro and the working collections (most S. tuberosum spp. tuberosum) was conserved by planting them yearly on the field.

The last projects run with the Potato Genebank were:

The evaluation of the genetic diversity of wild and cultivated native potato of the South of Chile using protein profiles and microsatellites. It study grouped the collections in 3 groups: Chiloé, chonos, and base collection, where a high genetic diversity and heterozygosity was found genetically (Perez & Riegel, 2004).

Also social projects were done working on the rescue, protection, cleaning and commercialization of native potatoes accessions of Chiloé. As well as a territorial program of productive, commercial and agroindustrial consolidation of the native potato of Chiloé.www.papasnativasdechiloé.cl. The goal was the prevention of disappearance of valuable Chiloé Island genotypes, making the transference and multiplication of native potatoes to provide to the marginal agricultural sectors.

A catalogue of native potato cultivars in Chile was published, as well as the inscription of the cultivars at SAG (equiv. to BSA in Germany) to protect the genetic resources and promote save conditions to market to the Chiloe inhabitants.

Running proyects:

  • DID S. 2012-03 The elaboration of an international platform for the UACh potato Genebank , the complementation and actualization of the information.
  • DID S-2011-37. The effect of the increased UV-B radiation and low PAR on physiological traits, yield and healthy properties of native potatoes and its association with tolerance to radiation stress
  • Fondecyt 11110500. Effects of high temperature on potato (Solanum Tuberosum L.) and associated traits to heat stress tolerance.
  • Evaluation of virus resistances of the working collection