Study: Sweet Potatoes May Originate in Asia, not in the Americas
New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science suggests that sweet potatoes may have originated in Asia instead of the Americas, and much earlier than previously known.
Paleobotanists in IndianaUniversity led by David Dilcher identified 57-milion-year-old leaf fossils from eastern India as being from the morning glory family, which includes sweet potatoes and many other plants.
The research suggested the family originated in the late Paleocene epoch in the East Gondwana land mass that became part of Asia.
“I think this will change people’s ideas,” Dilcher said. “It will be a data point that is picked up and used in other work where researchers are trying to find the time of the evolution of major groups of flowering plants.”
Previous fossil evidence had suggested the morning glory family may have originated in North America about 35 million years ago, but molecular analyses supported the idea that it originated earlier and in the Old World. The new research provides evidence for that conclusion.