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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Create Potatoes with Higher Levels of Carotenoids

October 31, 2012

Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Station (USDA ARS) have bred yellow potatoes with carotenoid levels that are two to three times higher than those of the popular Yukon Gold yellow-fleshed potato, a yellow-fleshed variety familiar to consumers.

ARS geneticist Kathy Haynes and nutritionist Beverly Clevidence found that wild potatoes with intense yellow flesh have around 23 times more carotenoid than their white-fleshed counterparts. The research team developed the high-carotenoid potatoes by crossing the wild with cultivated types. In 2011, Haynes published the results of her previous research, describing the plant crosses she used to double and triple carotenoid levels normally found in Yukon Gold potatoes. Several carotenoids are involved in their recent study, including lutein and zeaxanthin, as they appear to protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataract formation.

Read more about this and other fruit and vegetable research in the October 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct12/fruits1012.htm.