Doctoral Student at the Department of Plant Sciences.
South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB. [See map]
Biodiversity and Plant Systematics
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) is one of the ten most important staple foods in the world. It produces more biomass and nutrients per hectare than any other crop. In recent times it has proved especially significant in addressing vitamin A deficiency in developing countries. At a time when crop diversity is paramount for global food security, understanding the evolutionary relationship between crops and their closest relatives is of major importance because of the interest in wild species for breeding programmes. However in the specific case of sweet potato, and despite 200 years of research efforts, most aspects of that relationship remain unclear, in part due to a lack of reliable taxonomic knowledge of its wild relatives.
What is known is that sweet potato forms a monophyletic group with 13 other species. In the last taxonomic revision of this group, twelve species and three hybrids were included in the Section Batatas, and several other species have been added since. Most species of this group are difficult to identify and discriminate from each other as the taxonomic boundaries between species remain unclear. The group is distributed in America, from Southern United States to Northern Argentina including the Caribbean, with one species in the Asian Pacific coast. The highest number of species are found from central Mexico to the northern Andean Region.
My research utilizes morphological and molecular sequence data to address a number of questions concerning the sweet potato and its wild relatives, including sweet potato domestication and the role of other species in its evolution.
For further details, please visit my personal website or my profile at the the department of Plant Sciences.