AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH COUNCIL'S POTATO IN VITRO GENEBANK
Genebanks are an important way to conserve plant genetic resources. They provide safe storage to ensure that the cultivars and land races of crops that underpin food supply are secure, and that they are easily available for use by farmers, plant breeders and researchers. The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has the only active potato breeding programme that breeds for cultivars that are suitable to local South African conditions. All material used in the potato breeding programme, which contains genetic diversity needed to overcome problems that potato producers could encounter in future, is maintained vegetatively under sterile conditions in the potato in vitro genebank. The in vitro genebank also houses the South African National Potato Cultivar Collection. This collection consists of all commercially-grown potato cultivars, which includes cultivars bred in South Africa (SA), as well as those that are imported by private potato seed companies. The potato material conserved under this collection is the true-to-type, disease-free potato material that is used by the South African Potato Industry for the production of potato seed planting material. To date, more than 1,200 different potato accessions are conserved at the in vitro genebank. Accessions are maintained in vitro under slow growth conditions in two different storage cabinets housed in two separate buildings. Two sets of 10-50 plants from each type of collection are maintained on a long storage medium at 4-7°C, with a 16 hour day, 8 hour night cycle. Stored plant material is monitored every two months for contamination and viability. The conditions under which the potato collection is stored and maintained in vitro at the genebank, as well as the key activities which are performed annually in order to ensure the safety of the breeding material and the commercially grown South African Potato collection, will be described.
Myeza, P.N. and Visser, A. (2013). AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH COUNCIL'S POTATO IN VITRO GENEBANK. Acta Hortic. 1007, 727-731
plant genetic resources (PGR), Solanum tuberosum L., breeding, conservation, biodiversity, seed potato, certification scheme