NordGen is not only a gene bank for seeds but also for potatoes. This is however the only vegetatively propagated crop kept at the gene bank. It is NordGen´s responsibility to maintain Nordic cultivars, local landraces and breeding lines of potato and at the moment 72 accessions are maintained in vitro. The different accessions are listed in the in vitro potato list.
In vitro cultivation is a method often used for vegetatively propagated plants. Small potato plants are growing in an environment free from pathogens at sterile conditions in glass tubes in special climatic chambers. The healthy in vitro plants are used for production of tubers and cuttings for distribution. The work in our in vitro laboratory is performed all year round. The small plantlets are checked upon regularly by skilled laboratory personel and are transfered to new tubes with fresh growing media when needed.
In addition there is also a field collection where 30 accessions are evaluated before decisions will be taken if they should enter the in vitro collection or not.
The NordGen potato collection is unique. It contains old landraces as well as older commercial cultivars not maintained elsewhere and no longer possible to buy commercially. Some of these accessions, like Gammal svensk röd or Rättviks röd, have been cultivated since 1720 when they probably were brought to Sweden by Jonas Alströmer. Many accessions also have interesting stories, for example Lemin Punanen that came to Finland 1850 with soldiers from the war on the Crimean peninsula.
The genetic variation kept in these potato accessions make them very special. Such variation are rarely seen among the few different cultivars in the food stores of today. The cultivars maintained at NordGen are characterized by interesting tubers shapes, colours, flavors and textures. These traits are appreciated by todays consumers as well as breeders who can use them for creation of new potato cultivars.
Every year 10-13 accessions are chosen for the production of mini tubers. Cuttings are transferred to pots in a special greenhouse where they grow to produce small healthy tubers for distribution next year. The number of tubers we can produce are limited but every year we offer 3-5 mini tubers per accession to interested researchers, breeders, out-door museums as well as hobby growers.
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