Potato DNA Fingerprinting and Variety Identification at Michigan State University


Potato Fingerprinting Service at MSU

  • Over 30 years of potato investigations and variety identification
  • Available as a service to the potato industry
  • Isozyme electrophoresis, since 1989, has been replaced by DNA fingerprinting
  • Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) since 2002
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNPs) since 2013

Please contact Joseph Coombs for further information about these services.




Our Methods:

Potato Fingerprinting and Variety Identification

  • DNA Fingerprinting is increasingly important
  • Powerful tool for variety identification
  • Importance for seed certification and PVP
  • Identity preservation can be challenging
    • Commercial production of over 700 different potato varieties and breeding lines in the US and Canada
    • Breeding programs with thousands of different breeding lines
  • Incorrect variety identification can have large economic consequences
  • DNA Fingerprinting can help confirm correct variety identification
    • Confirm genotypes in tissue culture and before minituber production
    • Field seed mixes
    • Mix in supermarket bags
    • Tuber variants in seed or ware
    • Brand/Variety monitoring
    • IP protection
    • Plant Variety Protection (PVP)
    • Tissue culture bank assessment


Simple Sequence Repeats (SSR) Fingerprinting

  • Good for “known” unknowns
  • Is this sample potato ‘A’ or ‘B’ ?
  • DNA-based marker
  • Comparison of approximately 20 alleles from 6-9 markers


Further information on this fingerprinting method is described in the journal article:

Coombs, J. J., L.M. Frank, D.S. Douches.  2004. An applied fingerprinting system for cultivated potato using simple sequence repeats. Amer. J. Potato Res. 81: 243-250.

SNP Fingerprinting using the Illumina Infinium SNP Array

  • Best approach for “unknown” unknowns
  • Excellent accuracy, precision, and robustness
  • DNA-based marker
  • 5,000 – 10,000 markers with tetraploid dosage
  • 2,500+ clone MSU SNP genotype database
  • Longer analysis time from DNA to data


Further information on this fingerprinting method is described in the journal article:

Hirsch, C.N., Hirsch, C.D., Felcher, K., Coombs, J., Zarka, D., Van Deynze, A., De Jong, W., Veilleux, R., Jansky, S., Bethke, P., Douches, D., Buell, C.R. 2013. Retrospective view of North American potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) breeding in the 20th and 21st centuries. Genes Genomes and Genetics. doi:10.1534/g3.113.005595.