B.A. Grinnell College, 2007, Biology and Anthropology
Potato breeding, population and quantitative genetics, domestication, diversity
Potatoes are the largest non-grain crop in the world and Minnesota growers produce about 2 billion pounds of potatoes a year in all market classes. We develop new potato cultivars to address changing environmental and disease pressures and meet the needs of Minnesota’s diverse growers.
The traditional breeding processes for potatoes is slow, because cultivated potatoes in the US are clonal tetraploids. In the Shannon lab we leverage genetic data and enhancing our understanding of tetraploid genetics to speed this breeding process through marker assisted selection. Additionally, we are exploring reducing ploidy to allow us to employ powerful diploid breeding approaches.
Potato Domestication and Diversity
Cultivated potato consists of multiple species (taxonomists disagree about how many) ranging from diploid to pentaploid, these were domesticated from a complex of wild Peruvian species. The history of potato improvement has involved continual introgression from wild species into the cultivated germplasm and selection for distinct morphologies. We use population and quantitative genetics to unravel this history based on the signatures it leaves in the genome. In the process, we discover how autopolyploidy and clonal reproduction affect the genetic patterns with evolution.