Sweet Potato Protection is More Than Skin Deep

October 15, 2009 By Ann Perry
Sweet Potato Protection is More Than Skin Deep
ARS researchers have found beneficial compounds in sweetpotatoes that may be useful in controlling fungi that cause plant diseases.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Sweet potatoes are a seasonal staple that earn U.S. producers some $370 million every year. Now Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have found traits in sweet potatoes that someday may make the vegetable as appreciated in the lab as it is in the kitchen.

All plants contain protective compounds called caffeoylquinic acids, which are known for their antioxidant activities. Caffeoylquinic levels vary widely between different plant species.

ARS agronomist Howard Harrison teamed up with plant pathologist Pat Wechter and plant physiologist Joseph Peterson (now retired) to measure the levels of caffeoylquinic acids in sweet potatoes. All three scientists work at the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C. Other ARS collaborators included ARS chemists Maurice Snook and Trevor Mitchell, who work in the Toxicology and Mycotoxin Research Unit of ARS' Richard B. Russell Research Center in Athens, Ga.

The research team found measurable amounts of all four types of caffeoylquinic acids in the sweet potatoes they tested. On average, the highest levels of the compounds were found in the layer of tissue just under the skin. Intermediate levels were found in the stele-the interior of the sweet potato-and the lowest levels were found in the skin.

The scientists found that three of the compounds they tested provided some protection against Rhizopus soft rot, a fungus which infects sweet potatoes after harvest by invading through breaks in the skin. One of the compounds inhibited the growth of another infectious plant fungus, Fusarium solani.

This research was published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

Provided by USDA Agricultural Research Service

Explore further: Laser Shows if Fruit's Beauty is Only Skin Deep

Related Stories

Laser Shows if Fruit's Beauty is Only Skin Deep

May 8, 2005

The produce industry is working with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to make sure that fruits and vegetables taste as good as they look. They're counting on "machine vision" tools that can predict the quality of ...

How sweet is it?

November 5, 2007

We love it fresh, canned and frozen. It's grown in every state, and according to a recent study published by the American Society of Horticultural Science, adds up to a whopping $807 million per year industry in the U.S. ...

Culprit Compounds That Block Beans' Healthful Iron Probed

September 25, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Familiar beans like reds, whites and pintos are rich in iron, a nutrient essential for our health. But not all of the little legumes' treasure trove of iron is bioaccessible -- that is, available for our ...

Ornamentals to Brighten the Fall Garden Palette

October 2, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- With “trick-or-treaters” coming soon, imagine two spirited new pepper varieties making an appearance in your neighborhood as well. The new pepper cultivars have been released by the Agricultural Research ...

Recommended for you

A long look back at fishes' extendable jaws

October 8, 2015

When it comes to catching elusive prey, many fishes rely on a special trick: protruding jaws that quickly extend their reach to snap up that next meal. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology ...

New protein cleanup factors found to control bacterial growth

October 8, 2015

Biochemists have long known that crucial cell processes depend on a highly regulated cleanup system known as proteolysis, where specialized proteins called proteases degrade damaged or no-longer-needed proteins. These proteases ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.