Researchers use wild potatoes to develop better hybrids

John Bamberg has explored one of the nation’s most important Native American archaeological sites, but instead of seeking clues to a past civilization, he was searching for solutions to many of the challenges facing the potato industry. Bamberg, a project leader at the USDA Potato Introduction Station in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., has discovered that Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado is not only home to cliff-dwelling Ancestral Pueblos, but also to the nation’s most diverse population of a wild potato species. Bamberg’s facility maintains seed and tissue cultures of wild potato populations from around the world. Latin America, where potatoes originated, is considered the treasure trove of wild material. Bamberg, however, specializes in seeking wild spuds closer to home. More