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Research: Potatoes wild with calcium

Jansky with potatoes in research fieldHave you ever cut into a potato to find a dark spot or hollow part? Early research shows that these defects are likely the result of calcium deficiencies in the potato — and that tuber calcium is genetically linked to tuber quality. Neither consumers at grocery stores nor the companies that make potato chips and fries want these low calcium defects. In addition to the cosmetic issues, these potatoes are more likely to rot. Most farmed varieties of potatoes have naturally low levels of calcium. So researchers at the USDA-ARS and University of Wisconsin-Madison, including Shelley Jansky, John Bamberg, and Jiwan Palta looked to wild potatoes. Their purpose: to breed new potato cultivars with high calcium levels. The team found a wild potato with almost seven times as much calcium as a usual variety. The next job was to isolate the calcium trait. More. Jansky’s research is published in Crop Science.

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