An alternative health crop for South Africa: Purple potato mini tuber production as affected by water and nutrient stress
Food security in South Africa ranks as one of the top ten priorities in the country. Potato is a fundamental staple food crop in South Africa, providing essential nutrition. While there are several cultivars currently in production for the potato market, there is a need to explore cultivars that are available, but not utilised within the country. Pigmented potatoes are not regarded as high value on the South African market; however, yield prospects as well as health-promoting benefits could have a positive contribution on the South African Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and on the population’s health. Potato cultivar (cv.) Salad blue (SB) seems to be a drought-tolerant crop with the ability to produce reasonable yields under severe environmental conditions. In order to promote cv. SB as a possible food security option for South Africa, there is a critical need for empirical information, describing some basic horticultural as well as biochemical information and vitamin C presence. This study investigated the potential of pigmented potato SB tubers as an alternative to high yielding white potato for the South African market. Tubers of Solanum tuberosum cv. BP1 and SB, were used for this research. The high amounts in phenolic compounds in SB can be considered to be health-promoting phytochemicals. Anticarcinogenic, antibacterial, antiviral properties have been reported. A greenhouse, bag trial with virus-free plantlets of BP1 and SB cultivars was conducted using three water and nutrient levels and favourable root zone temperature (100% without heat, 100% heated, 50% heated, 25% heated) all grown in coco peat. Cultivar SB showed nearly two-fold yield compared to the control BP1. Methanol extracts of the tubers were assessed for their total polyphenolic, flavanol, and flavonol contents as well as 1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) scavenging ability, ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), Trolox equivalence antioxidant capacity (TEAC), anthocyanin and Lascorbic acid assays. The aqueous extract of the SB tubers was found to contain higher level of total polyphenols (320 mg GAE/g), and flavonol (85 mg QE/g) than the extract of the BP1 tubers with values of 173 mg GAE/g (total polyphenol), and 67 mg QE/g (flavonol). Similarly, the methanol extract of the tuber skins also exhibited higher DPPH (818,86 IC50 mg/mL), FRAP (18,19 μmol AAE/g), and TEAC (911,12 μmol TE/g) than the extract of the BP1 with DPPH (595,99 IC50 mg/mL), FRAP (10,86 μmol AAE/g) and TEAC (435,44 μmol TE/g). The present study provides useful information for farmers and health professionals in respect to increased yield and health-promoting benefits of an underutilized potato variety.
Key words: Drought tolerant, Food security, Potato, Root Zone Temperature, water, nutrient
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