Exam II - Potato Origins and Potato Famine I. Potato...

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Potato Origins and Potato Famine I. Potato Origins a. High plains of Andes (altiplano) i. Cool climate ii. Highly variable topography within same latitude iii. Domesticated no later than 7,000 years ago around Lake Titicaca 1. developed own way of “persevering” potatoes b. Evidence of Use i. Dried remains found in dried caves – not conducive to decay ii. Artwork found depicting potato use II. The Potato a. Solanaceae b. “Potato” derived from West Indian word for sweet potato – “batatas” c. Origins and Cultivation i. Near center of origin many different species and land races 1. variation due to natural hybridization 2. S. American landraces adapted to short-day conditions ii. Inbreeding Depression 1. self-fertilization progeny are weak and non-productive 2. clonal propagation used for potatoes – seed potatoes iii. S. tuberosum is the only one used outside S. America d. Spread of Potato Out of South America i. 1537 – Spanish explorers ransack Colombian village 1. conquistadors ate potatoes and spread from S. to Meso-America ii. 1580s – Potato spreads to Europe, but mostly as botanical curiosity 1. slow utilization in Europe 2. Why? a. Cultural Factors – relation to Solanaceae i. Solanine – alkaloid compounds ii. Grew underground = evil spirits iii. Preferred food of “primitive people” – low social status relation b. Biological Factors i. Poor tuberization process under long-day conditions 1. in high latitudes – longer day conditions more extreme ii. propagation in botanical gardens by true seed fostered variation iii. Promotion of Potato in Europe 1. 1757 – promoted by Parmentier – used to solve problems of famine in France 2. Ireland a. 1663 – established as field crop b. Ideal growing conditions i. Cool (similar to Altiplano) ii. Damp c. Excellent fallback to traditional crops d. Underground tubers not easily stolen or burned III. Late Blight – “Potato Murrain” a. Symptoms i. Brown to black spots on leaves and stems ii. Rapid decay of all plant parts iii. Rot of “healthy” tubers in storage iv. Phytophthora infestans fungus growth b. Effects on Ireland
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i. Appeared in Belgium in June 1845 ii. By 1845, Irish population had grown to 8 million+ iii. As a result of famine, over 1 million died and 1.5 million emigrated iv. Today, Irish population is < 4 million c. Why was the disease so devastating in Ireland and nowhere else? i. Dependency on potato as sole food crop (monoculture) ii. Monoculture 1. Advantages – large yield/acre, easy to plant, easy to harvest 2. Disadvantages – susceptibility to epidemics, disrupts “natural” ecology by lowering biodiversity d. Why monoculture of potatoes in Ireland? i.
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Exam II - Potato Origins and Potato Famine I. Potato...

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