Genetic Resources of Potato including conservation, characterization and
utilization of secondary potato varieties for ecological production systems in Europe
The European Commission has funded a 4 years project (started 1 March 1996) on the
genetic resources of potato in the framework of the European Community Programme
on the Conservation, Characterization, Collection and Utilization of Genetic Resources
in Agriculture (EC No. 1467/94).
Beside the 12 participants, some institutions were involved as observers.
Furtheron ECPGR supported 5 East European institutes to be partners of the project.
The potato is the second most important crop in Europe after wheat. Potato still is
susceptible to a large number of diseases and pests, making it one of the most heavy users
of chemical inputs of any crop (van Loon et al., 1993).
Breeding companies in the EU are worldwide active. There is a continuous need for new
properties to improve the varieties. It is the only important crop in Europe that is vegetatively
propagated, which raises particular problems in the genetic resources activities.
The general objective is :
To make better use of European potato collections, in order to produce material for low-input
agriculture (e.g. reduction of pesticides and/or fertilizers), and of higher quality for the consumer.
Specific objectives are :
Coordinate potato genetic resources in Europe, harmonize those databases already existing
within the EU and establish a central EU potato database.
Improve health status of a chosen set of European potato genetic resources for European farmers,
breeders and scientists and improve its accessibility.
Characterize potential genetic resources for economically important traits:
- resistance against pests and diseases (e.g. late blight and cyst nematodes)
- quality traits for eating and processing and other traits such as low nitrogen requirements.
Rationalization of potato collections included in the network.
Diffusing material and results to farmers, advisers, breeders and scientists.
The network will develop crop databases for potato cultivars (Solanum tuberosum
ssp. tuberosum), and related tuber-bearing Solanum species.
A sub-set of the potato germplasm will be made disease free, meeting the quarantine requirements
of Directive 77/93/EEC and its amendments to permit free distribution within the EU.
This will be accomplished by:
- virus eradication of a sub-set of diseased cultivars and
- elimination of contaminated material after screening for quarantine diseases during the
regeneration of a sub-set of the related tuber-bearing Solanum species
The identification of:
- clones of interest for ecological production systems. A sub-set of the varieties will be
evaluated on farms under organic production systems.
- germplasm for quality traits and resistance against pests and diseases. A sub-set of the
material will be evaluated and characterized for some economic important properties.
Core collections will be created for Groups A (collections including potato varieties) and
B (collections including wild and primitive species of potato).
The results will be diffused by publications and meetings and to those interested a floppy disc
of the Database together with a explanatory note will be made available. Database information will
also be made available on the Internet.
The coordination of potato genetic resources within the EU will minimize duplication of inputs
and maximize the availability of germplasm and its information within the European Community.
Formerly neglected potato varieties will be characterized and information on potentially useful
varieties diffused to users.
European potato breeding companies utilizing the results of this project can produce superior
varieties and strengthen their position on the world market.
A consequential reduction in the input of pesticides and fertilizers will reduce the variable
costs for farmers, which benefits the consumers and strengthens the competitive position of the
European producers and agro-industry on the world market.
When potato breeders and scientists will use the results of the project in their breeding
programmes, new potato varieties can be released with improved resistance against pests and diseases
and/or improved nitrogen uptake efficiency, resulting in an extensification of the use of pesticides
and/or reduced nitrogen dressing.
(Neglected) varieties of interest for ecological production systems will be identified.
Diffusion of results
The network developed two databases, one for potato cultivars (Solanum tuberosum ssp.
tuberosum), and one for related Solanum species (wild and primitive species).
The database for cultivars and breeding lines has been made searchable by SASA at
The database for related Solanum species can be downloaded as an
Excel file (4 mB from 27/12/2016).
A description of the used descriptors for the passport and evaluation data is included.
The results of the project will be offered for publication in professional literature.
At all appropriate opportunities the participants present the results of the project
at national and international meetings of farmers and others.
This project has been carried out with financial support from the Commission of the European
Communities, Agriculture and Fisheries. It does not necessarily reflect its view and in
no way anticipates the Commission's future policy in this area.
The publishers of this site cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions,
or for any damage or loss sustained as a result of use of information from this site.