Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
Improving potato varieties

June 30, 2011  By Crop Science Society of America


potatoes06June 30, 2011, Madison, WI
– Potato tubers used to manufacture potato chips and fries must meet strict
quality control guidelines. One of the most important of these is a requirement
that fried products are uniformly light coloured after cooking.

June 30, 2011, Madison, WI
– Potato tubers used to manufacture potato chips and fries must meet strict
quality control guidelines. One of the most important of these is a requirement
that fried products are uniformly light coloured after cooking.

Storing potatoes at low
temperatures results in an accumulation of sugars. These sugars undergo
chemical reactions during cooking that give rise to dark-coloured chips and
fries that may contain a high amount of a compound found in carbohydrate-rich
foods cooked at high temperatures. Health concerns have been raised about the
consumption of this compound, called acrylamide.

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potatoes06 
  

According to scientists at
the Inner Mongolian University, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and the USDA
Agricultural Research Service
, reducing the activity of a single protein
allowed for low-temperature storage of potato tubers without an accumulation of
sugars. This approach was used successfully with four potato varieties
currently in commercial production.

In each case, when the
targeted protein’s activity was greatly reduced, tuber quality after low
temperature storage was improved. This data defines a specific genetic target
for improvement of potatoes that will benefit consumers and producers by
improving tuber quality and healthiness of potato products.

Furthermore,
spoilage-related potato waste will likely be reduced since the modified tubers
could be stored at cooler temperatures than those from conventional potato
varieties.

Greenhouse and field
evaluations have indicated that this method does not have negative effects on
plant growth and yield. However, large-scale field trials will be necessary to
validate these initial observations, according to UW-Madison scientist Jiming
Jiang.

Full results from this
study can be found in the 2011 May-June issue of the journal Crop Science.


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