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US: Valuable potato specimens transferred to Wisconsin State Herbarium

David Spooner is a taxonomist in the horticulture department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, charged with traveling the world to gather plant specimens that could be useful to plant breeders and then carefully organizing the plants by their relatedness. At the end of October, Spooner transferred a large collection of potato specimens in the form of pressed plants from the U.S. Potato Genebank in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, to the Wisconsin State Herbarium housed on the UW–Madison campus. The donation is a significant boon for the 1.3 million-specimen herbarium on campus. “What makes the herbarium samples valuable is that they cover the majority of the potato species diversity,” says Spooner. “The purpose of the germplasm collections is to be useful breeding stock to improve disease resistance or agronomic traits like productivity and color.” More