Internat ional Year of the Potato Keeper of the world potato gene bank At the Centro International de la Papa (CIP), in the Peruvian capital Lima, the famous potato gene bank is cherished like a true Inca treasure. In addition, this source forms the basis for research for the entire potato world. Guarding the Inca treasure is not just for the show. ‘It takes a great deal of time and attention to keep the gene bank in order.’ David Tay, team leader and researcher at the CIP, shows us around the Valhalla of the potato scientist. Only after extensive identification at the gate of the CIP are WUR researcher and former CIP researcher Anton Haverkort and I given permission to enter the strictly-guarded grounds of the potato institute. The well-known picture of the Inca’s potato god on the walls of the plastered building grins at us from far. After a brief tour along a wide range of wild potato varieties, David Tay takes us to the strictly-guarded wing where the very special gene material is kept. He tells us that the CIP applies different methods of conservation. The first and most important method is via in-vitro meristeme storage and multiplication The result of this work can be found in long rows of coded tubes in the climate rooms of the institute. Part of this meristeme is frozen in liquid nitrogen, which enables long DNA storage. A second method is via tubers and multiplication in the field. The tubers that are in cooled storage are grown high in the mountains in isolated areas, where pests and diseases cannot infect the potatoes. The last method is via seed that is stored at minus 20o C. By Local market Lima Potato World 2009 • number 1 31 Pagina 30

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