Potato (Solanum tuberosum)

Bunches of Potatoes Photo Courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Potatoes.jpg
Potato Plant Photo Courtesy of http://persoon.si.edu/PlantImages/



      Many people would be surprised to hear that the potatoes they eat are CLONES!  Don’t worry though, only those genetically engineered, illegal potatoes are clones right? Wrong.  For the last 50 years or so, the potatoes people have been eating are clones of their parents.  Why is this you may ask?  Well, the seeds produced by potatoes are able to grow potato plants, but they are difficult to harvest.  Instead, seed tubers are grown in fields. 

      As you learned in the Agriculture part of the site, potatoes have eyes Potato "Eyes" Picture from Cliparton them out of which shoots sprout.  Farmers have utilized this special reproductive ability of potatoes for decades.  Seed potato crops are grown, and the tubers are sold at market to other farmers.  The tubers are then cut up and used the following year by farmers to grow the potatoes that are harvested for human consumption. 

      Because there are multiple eyes on each potato, one seed tuber can be used to start several new potato plants.  Essentially, the potatoes you eat at supper or McDonald’s are the cloned ancestors of a relatively small number ofPotato Picture from Clipart select potatoes.