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Collapse of Morphological Species in the Wild Potato Solanum brevicaule Complex (Solanaceae: Sect. Petota)

Ronald G. van den Berg, Joseph T. Miller, Maria L. Ugarte, Jouke P. Kardolus, Julie Villand, James Nienhuis and David M. Spooner
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 85, No. 1 (Jan., 1998), pp. 92-109
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2446559
Page Count: 18
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Abstract

The major cultivated potato, Solanum tuberosum, and six other related cultivated species, are hypothesized to have arisen from a group of weedy relatives indigenous to the central Andes of central Peru, Bolivia, and northern Argentina. A major problem hindering investigations of the origins of the cultivated species has been a continuing debate over the species boundaries of their putative progenitors. This study investigated the morphological phenetic species boundaries of these putative progenitors and five cultivated taxa, here collectively referred to as the Solanum brevicaule complex. Two hundred fifteen accessions of 30 taxa in the S. brevicaule complex and 42 accessions of six taxa outside of the complex were assessed for 53 morphological traits in replicate plots in a common garden, resulting in a total of over 81 000 data points. Phenetic analyses of these data are unable to support 30 taxa, suggesting instead a single variable complex at best only weakly divided into three widely intergrading sets of populations: (1) Peruvian and geographically adjacent Bolivian accessions (including wild species and all the cultigens), (2) Bolivian and Argentinian accessions and S verrucosum from Mexico (including only wild species), and (3) the Bolivian and Argentinian wild species S. oplocense. These and other data suggest that Hawkes's 1990 treatment (The Potato Evolution, Biodiversity, and Genetic Resources, Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, DC.) of 232 morphological species is an overestimate for sect Petota.

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