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Monoculture and the Irish Potato Famine: Cases of missing genetic variation (2 of 3)
The Importance of Diversity
Although the famine ultimately had many causes, the disaster would likely not have been so terrible had more genetically variable potatoes been planted. Some potatoes would have carried the right genes to make it through the epidemic, and more of the resistant varieties could have been planted in the years following the first epidemic. Later, scientists identified resistance genes in a potato from South America, where farmers have preserved the genetic variation of potatoes by growing many cultivated varieties alongside the potatos wild cousins.
The image below compares the effect of a blight on diverse and cloned crops.