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Anthocyanin and carotenoid contents in potato: breeding for the specialty market

C. R. Brown
The potato is an underground stem with specialized functions to vegetatively propagate
the plant. It should rightly be classified as a vegetable, and a recognition of its nutritional
contribution should be judged along side other vegetables. It is not commonly known,
for instance, that potatoes contain carotenoids, lutein and zexanthin, constituents of the
human retina. Carotenoids have been found to stimulate processes involved in the
immune system of animal models (Lee et al., 1999), and lutein has been found to inhibit
breast cancer development in mice (Park et al., 1998). Both carotenoids and
anthocyanins are antioxidants.
White and yellow flesh potato have xanthophyllous carotenoids. Yellowness is a
determinant of xanthophyll up to a point. In Figure 1 we see the relationship of yellow
index to the concentration of carotenoids. Yellowness is correlated with content up to
about 1000 mcg per 100 g FW, but above these levels no further increase in yellowness is
y = 10.807Ln(x) - 7.706
= 0.723
0 1000 2000 3000
Total Carotenoid (micrograms per 100 g FW)
Yellow Index (YIE313)
Figure 1. Relationship of yellow index to total carotenoid content
Presented at Idaho Potato School, January 17, 2006, Pocatello, ID.
The total carotenoid content of white cultivars and breeding lines ranges from 50 to 100
mcg per 100 g FW. Yellow flesh cultivars may have carotenoid contents up to 270 mcg,
while more intensely yellow breeding clones will range up to 800 (Table 1).
Table 1. Total carotenoid content in yellow and white flesh named varieties and
experimental lines
Cultivar or Breeding Line
µg / 100 g FW
Light Yellow flesh cultivars and
breeding lines
Adora W/Y 227 cdefg
Divina W/Y 271 cdef
Fabula W/Y 179 cdefg
Ilona W/Y 176 cdefg
Morning Gold W/Y 101 defg
Provento W/Y 191 cdefg
Satina W/Y 248 cdefg
Yukon Gold W/Y 194 cdefg
POR00PG4-2 W/Y 250 cdefg
Dark Yellow flesh breeding lines
91E22 W/DY 795 a
PA99P11-2\w PR/DY 509 b
PA99P1-2\w PR/DY 525 b
PA99P2-1\w PR/DY 738 a
POR00PG4-1 W/DY 634 ab
Red and Yellow breeding lines
POR00PG9-1\w PR/R&Y 299 cd
POR00PG9-2\w PR/R&Y 307 cd
POR00PG9-3\w PR/R&Y 109 defg
POR00PG9-5\w PR/R&Y 273 cde
POR00PG9-6\w PR/R&Y 327 c
White flesh cultivars and
breeding lines
Norkotah RT/W 40 g
Ranger RT/W 71 efg
Burbank RT/W 58 fg
A8893-1 RT/W 56 g
A9014-2 RT/W 55 g
A90586-11 RT/W 99 defg
A9045-7 RT/W 64 efg
A90490-1 RT/W 101 defg
A91790-13 RT/W 75 efg
A92030-5 RT/W 54 g
A93157-6LS RT/W 66 efg
1RT/W = russet skin/white flesh, W/Y = white skin/light yellow flesh, W/DY = white
skin/dark yellow flesh, PR/R&Y = Partially red skin/red and yellow flesh, PR/DY =
partially red skin/dark yellow flesh. Means not sharing the same letter letter are
significantly different at the P < 0.05 level, using Duncan’s Multiple Range Test.
Although it is sometimes not directly observable, solidly red or purple flesh due to high
anthocyanin concentration may be accompanied by higher total carotenoids as noted in
the red-yellow flesh clones in Table 1.
There is a class of potato cultivars in South America called Papa Amarilla (PA) (yellow
potato), which have exceedingly high carotenoid values. We have found that certain
progeny of crosses made between PA parents produce progeny that exceed either of the
parents by more than two population standard deviations (Figure 2).
200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2400 2600 2800
Carotenoid Intervals
Number of Progney
Yema de Huevo
Figure 2. Distribution of total carotenoids contents in progeny of a cross between two
Papa Amarilla types (91E22 and Yema de Huevo [Egg yolk]).
Three progeny exceeded 2, 400 mcg per 100 g FW despite the fact that the mid parent
value is 900 mcg. This is an indication of transgressive segregation. It also indicates that
it may be possible to breed intensely yellow cultivars with exceptionally high total
Anthocyanins are red to purple pigments ubiquitous in the plant kingdom. Anthocyanins
are water soluble and are potent antioxidants. The general public is familiar with red skin
potato. The skin is red due to a high concentration of red anthocyanins in the epidermal
layer. However, much higher levels of anthocyanins are present in clones that have
pigmented flesh. The degree of pigmentation can vary from streaks or blotches of
pigment to solid dark pigment (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Different patterns and degrees of anthocyanin pigmentation in potato. The
degree of pigmentation is under polygenic control, while presence and absence of
pigment in the flesh are under single gene control.
The concentration of anthocyanins can have a large range. The concentration of
anthocyanin in skin tissue is quite high. However, the skin is such a small volume of the
whole tuber that generally a red-skinned white-fleshed potato has no more than 1.5 mg
per 100 g FW when skin and flesh are extracted together. However, potatoes with
anthocyanin in the flesh range from 15 to nearly 40 mg per 100 g FW (Table 2). We
have found that red-flesh potatoes contain predominantly acylated glucosides of
pelargonidin. Purple-flesh potatoes have a more complex content of acylated glucosides
of pelargonidin, petunidin, cyanidin, and malvidin (Brown et al., 2003).
It is very interesting that the antioxidant potential of potatoes is raised by the anthocyanin
concentration and a significant regression relationship is found (Figure 4).
Table 2. Total anthocyanin and associated antioxidant level hydrophilic Oxygen Radical
Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) for purple flesh and red flesh breeding lines.
Breeding lines Skin/Tuber
flesh Type\z Total
mg / 100 g FW
cance Hydrophilic
µmole / 100
g FW\y
Purple skin / Purple flesh
PA97B29-2 P/P 17.0 de\w 800 c
PA97B29-4 P/P 20.1 cde 930 bc
PA97B29-6 P/P 17.3 de 840 bc
Red skin / red flesh
NDOP5847-1 R/R 37.8 a 1420 a
PA97B35-1 R/R 24.3 bcde 1100 abc
PA97B36-3 R/R 15.0 e 850 bc
PA97B37-7 R/R 31.5 abc 1410 abc
PA99P9-2 R/R 26.9 abcde 1210 abc
PA99P9-4 R/R 24.5 bcde 790 c
PA99P10-2 R/R 27.2 abcde 1150 abc
PA99P20-1 R/R 20.8 bcde 1040 abc
PA99P20-2 R/R 26.8 abcde 980 bc
PA99P32-5 R/R 23.8 bcde 850 bc
POR00PG1-4 R/R 35.1 ab 1020 bc
POR00PG2-1 R/R 22.2 bcde 950 bc
POR00PG2-7 R/R 28.1 abcde 1160 abc
POR00PG2-11 R/R 29.6 abcd 1100 abc
POR00PG2-16 R/R 24.3 bcde 1160 abc
POR00PG3-1 R/R 19.8 cde 1020 bc
\zKey to skin and tuber flesh types: R = red, P = purple.
\yHydrophilic ORAC = trolox equivalents,
\wMeans not sharing the same letter are significantly different
using the Duncan’s Multiple Range Test at P< 0.05
Atnhocyanin versus ORAC
y = 0.2234x + 4.8603
= 0.5337
0 10203040
Anthocyanin mg / 100 g FW
ORAC uMole / 100
g FW
Total Anthocyanin Content Versus
Antioxidant Value (ORAC)
Figure 4. Regression between anthocyanin content and antioxidant value (ORAC) is
Development of new potato cultivars with specific non-traditional traits designed to
appeal to a diet conscious populace is a relatively young endeavor. These potato have yet
to find a steady market. However, the genetic diversity and nutritional bonuses embodied
by the genetic diversity in pigment types and concentration have captured a faithful
audience. Home gardeners and small and large scale producers are watching this
phenomenon. Ultimately, the consumer will determine which direction the industry goes.
However, selection programs are looking for attractive skin that retains a bright color
even after extended storage. It appears that there is a market for less than four ounce size
tubers. At the same time, total yield is important, and it is likely that a high yield
somewhat evenly divided between small and medium size tubers might be the most
advantageous combination. It is likely that the crop destined for specialty markets will
need to be closely managed for size. In this regard, the overall yield is least likely to
suffer if a heavy set of small tubers is the innate yield characteristic of the variety.
Otherwise, the only way to limit size in more traditional plant types is to stop the growth
by killing the foliage quite early in the growing season, reducing yield by a considerable
Brown, CR, R Wrolstad, R Durst, C-P Yang and BA Clevidence. 2003 Breeding studies
in potatoes containing high concentrations of anthocyanins. Am. Journal of Potato Res.
Lee, CM, AC Boileau, TWM Boileau, AW Williams, KS Swanson, KA Heintz and JW
Erdman. 1999. Review of animal models in carotenoid research. Journal of Nutrition
129: 2271-2277
Park, JS, BP Chew and TS Wong. 1998. Dietary lutein from marigold extract inhibits
mammary tumor development in BALB/c mice. Journal of Nutrition 128: 1650-1656.
... the fleshes are colored, the skins are usually colored identically, eg, red, purple or blue colored fleshes are often accompanied by red, purple or blue skins respectively ( Brown et al., 2003a;De Jong et al., 2003). Furthermore, the tuber skins of colored potatoes are uniformly colored, but the fleshes may range from partial pigmentation to complete one and different degrees of partial pigmentation result in the colorful streaks, blotches arcs, rings or radiating stars in the fleshes ( Brown et al., 2003a;Brown, 2006). ...
... Colored potato colorations originate from the accumulation of anthocyanins in the specific parts of different classes of pigments, that is, carotenoids and anthocyanins ( Hayashi et al., 1997;Lewis et al., 1998b;Brown, 2006;Jansen and Flamme, 2006). Carotenoids produce the white, yellow or saffron yellow colors of the skins and/or fleshes ( Lewis et al., 1998b;Brown, 2006) and anthocyanins which are derive from six anthocyanidins produce the red, purple, blue or orange colors and different colored potatoes contain different amounts of various kinds of anthocyanins depending on genotypes and locations (Figure 1) (Al-Saikhan et al., 1995;Hung et al., 1997;Lewis et al., 1998a;RodriguezSaona et al., 1998;Fossen et al., 2003;Brown et al., 2003bBrown et al., , 2004Brown, 2005;Eichhorn and Winterhalter, 464 Afr. ...
... Colored potato colorations originate from the accumulation of anthocyanins in the specific parts of different classes of pigments, that is, carotenoids and anthocyanins ( Hayashi et al., 1997;Lewis et al., 1998b;Brown, 2006;Jansen and Flamme, 2006). Carotenoids produce the white, yellow or saffron yellow colors of the skins and/or fleshes ( Lewis et al., 1998b;Brown, 2006) and anthocyanins which are derive from six anthocyanidins produce the red, purple, blue or orange colors and different colored potatoes contain different amounts of various kinds of anthocyanins depending on genotypes and locations (Figure 1) (Al-Saikhan et al., 1995;Hung et al., 1997;Lewis et al., 1998a;RodriguezSaona et al., 1998;Fossen et al., 2003;Brown et al., 2003bBrown et al., , 2004Brown, 2005;Eichhorn and Winterhalter, 464 Afr. J. Pharm. ...
Colored potatoes are due to the accumulation of anthocyanins in the stem tubers. The strong antioxidative activity of potato anthocyanins results from the promotion effects of the anthocyanins on the activities of the antioxidant enzymes and is positively correlated to the anthocyanin content, which derives several important pharmacological actions. Both the antioxidative strength and anti-influenza virus activity of potato anthocyanins are determined by the molecular structures of the anthocyanins and this involves the synergic effects of the anthocyanins and other antioxidants in the tubers. In addition, potato anthocyanins may improve colonic environments. However, so far, the pharmacological and nutritional activities of potato anthocyanins are all verified initially by using model experimental systems and the total anthocyanins of the potatoes with specific colorations, the molecular mechanisms and the universality of the biomedicinal activities of potato anthocyanins are not yet well understood.
... The pigmentation ranges from partial to complete. Different degrees of pigmentation result in specific coloration patterns including spots, stripes and rings (Brown 2006). For anthocyanins described in potato a rough pattern is already verified. ...
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Main conclusion Metabolite profiling of tuber flesh and peel for selected colored potato varieties revealed cultivar and tissue specific profiles of anthocyanins and other polyphenols with variations in composition and concentration. Starchy tubers of Solanum tuberosum are a staple crop and food in many countries. Among cultivated potato varieties a huge biodiversity exists, including an increasing number of red and purple colored cultivars. This coloration relates to the accumulation of anthocyanins and is supposed to offer nutritional benefits possibly associated with the antioxidative capacity of anthocyanins. However, the anthocyanin composition and its relation to the overall polyphenol constitution in colored potato tubers have not been investigated closely. This study focuses on the phytochemical characterization of the phenolic composition of a variety of colored potato tubers, both for peel and flesh tissues. First, liquid chromatography (LC) separation coupled to UV and mass spectrometry (MS) detection of polyphenolic compounds of potato tubers from 57 cultivars was used to assign groups of potato cultivars differing in their anthocyanin and polyphenol profiles. Tissues from 19 selected cultivars were then analyzed by LC separation coupled to multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) to detect quantitative differences in anthocyanin and polyphenol composition. The measured intensities of 21 anthocyanins present in the analyzed potato cultivars and tissues could be correlated with the specific tuber coloration. Besides secondary metabolites well-known for potato tubers, the metabolic profiling led to the detection of two anthocyanins not described for potato tuber previously, which we tentatively annotated as pelargonidin feruloyl-xylosyl-glucosyl-galactoside and cyanidin 3-p-coumaroylrutinoside-5-glucoside. We detected significant correlations between some of the measured metabolites, as for example the negative correlation between the main anthocyanins of red and blue potato cultivars. Mainly hydroxylation and methylation patterns of the B-ring of dihydroflavonols, leading to the formation of specific anthocyanidin backbones, can be assigned to a distinct coloring of the potato cultivars and tuber tissues. However, basically the same glycosylation and acylation reactions occur regardless of the main anthocyanidin precursor present in the respective red and blue/purple tissue. Thus, the different anthocyanin profiles in red and blue potato cultivars likely relate to superior regulation of the expression and activities of hydroxylases and methyltransferases rather than to differences for downstream glycosyl- and acyltransferases. In this regard, the characterized potato cultivars represent a valuable resource for the molecular analysis of the genetic background and the regulation of anthocyanin side chain modification.
... Specialty potatoes may have enhanced human health benefits due to higher levels of antioxidants than traditional white-fleshed potatoes. Elevated levels of carotenoids have been observed in yellow-and orange-fleshed selections, while increased anthocyanin levels have been noted in red-and purple-fleshed selections (Brown 2006). Producing specialty potatoes with potential human health benefits under organic systems has generated significant interest. ...
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Sensory evaluations were performed on an array of specialty potato selections as part of a field day held on October 18, 2006 at the Powell Butte location of Central Oregon Agricultural Research Center. Specialty potatoes of various colors and shapes were baked, fried as wedges or included in salads, and evaluated for taste, texture, smell, and overall visual impression. Evaluators preferred the visual appeal of fried wedges made from POR01PG45-5, but found wedges prepared from POR01PG22-1 and OR00068-11 less appealing. A clear separation in visual impression was observed among the three potato salad preparations. The salad made with selection POR02PG37-2 was rated highest in visual appeal followed by POR01PG20-12 and POR01PG16-1. No significant differences (P = 5 percent) were observed among the selections in taste, texture, or smell for any of the preparation methods.
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Conference Paper
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