Evaluation of tuber-bearingSolanumspecies for nitrogen use efficiency and biomass partitioning

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Modern potato cultivars (Solanum tuberosum L.) require high rates of fertilizer nitrogen (N). This practice is costly and can pose a serious threat to surface and groundwater. Previous evaluation of wild potato germplasm demonstrated the existence of species capable of producing high total biomass under low N conditions, with the ability to make maximum use of added N. Therefore, a two-year field experiment was conducted in 1994 and 1995 to investigate the response of selected wild potato accessions and their hybrids with the haploid USW551 (USW) to low and high N environments. The haploid USW and cultivars Russet Burbank, Red Norland, and Russet Norkotah were also included in the study. Uniform propagules and seedlings from the various Solanum species were transplanted to a Hubbard loamy sand (Udic Haploboroll) at Becker, Minn. and were subjected to two N treatments: 0 and 225 kg N ha-1. At harvest, total dry biomass of wild and hybrid potato germplasm was equal to or higher than that of the cultivars. However, cultivar biomass partitioning was 1% to roots, 15% to shoots, 0% to fruits, and 84% to tubers, whereas wild potato species partitioned 18% to roots plus nontuberized stolons, 52% to shoots, 23% to fruits, and only 7% to tubers. Hybrids were intermediate, allocating 9% of their biomass to roots plus nontuberized stolons, 39% to shoots, 14% to fruits, and 38% to tubers. Nitrogen use efficiencies for many of the species and crosses were comparable to that for Russet Burbank and greater than those for Red Norland and Russet Norkotah. Of the wild species tested, S. chacoense accessions had the highest biomass accumulation and N uptake efficiencies and may be the best source of germplasm for improving NUE in a potato breeding program.

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