Introduction to Polyploidy: Potatoes


Amy Kohmetscher, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Deana Namuth-Covert Ph.D, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Walter De Jong Ph.D, Cornell University; David Douches Ph.D, Michigan State University

This page summarizes a learning activity, developed in part by SolCAP. This activity discusses the basics of polyploidy, autoploidy and alloploidy, benefits and challenges of working with polyploid organisms, and how to make predictions about inheritance in polyploids. The material is aimed towards introductory life science undergraduate students.


Polyploidy occurs when an organism has more than two sets of chromosomes. In plant breeding this can be both an advantage or a disadvantage, depending upon the goals of the program. This activity will use potato, as a case study to help demonstrate the unique qualities of working with polyploids. At the completion of this activity you/your students should be able to:

  • Define haploid, diploid, and polyploid.
  • Compare and contrast allopolyploid (alloploid) and autopolyploid (autoploid).
  • Calculate total chromosome number and number of chromosomes in each set with given information.
  • Predict whether offspring will be fertile or sterile based on their chromosomes.
  • Calculate probabilities of desired genotypes/phenotypes from a given polyploid cross. 



Explore the Introduction to Polyploidy Activity: Potatoes






Funding Statement

Development of this activity was supported in part by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project, agreement 2009-85606-05673, administered by Michigan State University and the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Undergraduate Education, National SMETE Digital Library Program, Award #0938034, administered by the University of Nebraska. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the United States Department of Agriculture or NSF.


Printable Potato Activity.pdf (1.31 MB)

PBGworks 1337