The Irish Potato

What role does the potato play in the number of Irish who emigrated from Ireland to America during The Great Famine (1846-1849)? According to historians, thousands of Irish natives were lost in a wave of immigration to America. Also, the destruction of the potato crop resulted in over one million deaths from starvation and disease.  A mold (Phytophthora infestans) that infected the Irish potato was the cause of all this suffering. The russet, red, white, yellow, purple and fingerling are just a few of the potato varieties that can be found worldwide. Ireland had one variety and the lack of genetic variation in Irish potatoes contributed to the severity of the Irish potato famine.

Check out these articles for some background information on the potato blight.

Monoculture and the Irish Potato Famine: cases of missing genetic variation

Irish farmer revives Irish famine potato

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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