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Effects of Water Availability on Free Amino Acids, Sugars, and Acrylamide-Forming Potential in Potato

Muttucumaru, Nira, Powers, Stephen J., Elmore, Stephen, Mottram, Donald S., Halford, Nigel G.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2015 v.63 no.9 pp. 2566-2575
acrylamides, asparagine, crop yield, drought tolerance, food quality, food safety, free amino acids, genotype, greenhouses, irrigation, plant available water, potatoes, proline, stress response, sugars, tubers, water stress, water supply
Irrigation is used frequently in potato cultivation to maximize yield, but water availability may also affect the composition of the crop, with implications for processing properties and food safety. Five varieties of potatoes, including drought-tolerant and -sensitive types, which had been grown with and without irrigation, were analyzed to show the effect of water supply on concentrations of free asparagine, other free amino acids, and sugars and on the acrylamide-forming potential of the tubers. Two varieties were also analyzed under more severe drought stress in a glasshouse. Water availability had profound effects on tuber free amino acid and sugar concentrations, and it was concluded that potato farmers should irrigate only if necessary to maintain the health and yield of the crop, because irrigation may increase the acrylamide-forming potential of potatoes. Even mild drought stress caused significant changes in composition, but these differed from those caused by more extreme drought stress. Free proline concentration, for example, increased in the field-grown potatoes of one variety from 7.02 mmol/kg with irrigation to 104.58 mmol/kg without irrigation, whereas free asparagine concentration was not affected significantly in the field but almost doubled from 132.03 to 242.26 mmol/kg in response to more severe drought stress in the glasshouse. Furthermore, the different genotypes were affected in dissimilar fashion by the same treatment, indicating that there is no single, unifying potato tuber drought stress response.