The world wide human consumption of potatoes is the third most important food crop after the rice and wheat. The global total crop production exceeds 300 million metric tonnes as more than a billion people eat potatoes.
There are over 180 wild potatoes species and more than 4000 varieties of potatoes. The availability of these in many sizes and shapes. Having bitter taste to eat. They are natural resistant to pests, diseases and climatic conditions due to biodiversity of these varieties of the potatoes. Potatoes produce more food per unit of water than any other major crop and are up to seven times more efficient in using water than cereals. They are produced in over 100 countries worldwide.
In view of the scientific evidences it is possible to grow at least four types of potatoes on Mars. According to the joint initiatives between National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the International Potato Centre (CIP), situated in Peru, scientists are trying to grow potatoes on the Mars. Potatoes produce more food per unit of water than any other major crop and are up to seven times more efficient in using water than cereals. They are produced in over 100 countries worldwide.
A new plant can be grown from a potato or piece of potato, called a “seed”. The new plant can produce 5-20 new tubers, which will be genetic clones of the mother seed plant. Potato plants also produce flowers and berries that contain 100-400 botanical seeds. These can be planted to produce new tubers, which will be genetically different from the mother plant.
The project began with a search for soils similar to that found on Mars. Julio Valdivia-Silva, a Peruvian researcher who worked at NASA's Ames Research Center, eventually concluded that the soil samples collected in the Pampas de la Joya region of southern Peru were the most similar to Martian soil. The study has identified four types of potatoes, out of 65 examined, which have shown resistance to high salinity conditions and were able to form tubers in a type of soil similar to that on Mars. One of these is the Tacna variety, developed in Peru in 1993. It was introduced to China shortly afterwards, where it showed high tolerance to droughts and saline soils with hardly any need for irrigation. This variety became so popular in China that it was ‘adopted’ in 2006 under the name of Jizhangshu 8. The same high tolerance was seen on the saline and arid soils of Uzbekistan, a country with high temperatures and water shortages, where the variety was also introduced and renamed as Pskom.
The second variety that passed the salinity test is being cultivated in coastal areas of Bangladesh that have high salinity soils and high temperatures. The other two types are promising clones — potatoes that are being tested for attributes that would make them candidates for becoming new varieties. These four potato types were created as a result of the CIP’s breeding programme to encourage adaptation to conditions in subtropical lowlands, such as extreme temperatures, which are expected to be strongly affected by climate change.
In addition to these four potato ‘finalists’, other clones and varieties have shown promising results when tested in severe environmental conditions. The findings offer researchers new clues about the genetic traits that can help tubers cope with severe weather scenarios on Earth.