Flavor is a primary trait in the selection of foods. The role of flavor in acceptance of the sweetpotato, flavors status as a selection trait in existing breeding programs, and our current understanding of the flavor chemistry of the sweetpotato was reviewed. The sweetpotato, unlike most staple crops, has a very distinct and dominant flavor. In typical breeding programs, however, flavor is generally one of the last traits screened. A tremendous diversity and range of flavors has been reported within the sweetpotato germplasm (e.g., acidic, bland, baked potato, boiled potato. carrot, chalky, chemical, citrus, earthy, Ipomoeo/terpene, lemon, musty, pumpkin, salty, squash (titer type), starchy, sweet, sweetpotato (traditional), terpene, and turnip. These results indicate that the genetic diversity for flavor present in sweetpotato germplasm will allow making substantial changes in the flavor of new cultivars, thus potentially opening previously unexploited or under-exploited markets. Implementation involves solving two primary problems: 1) identification of desirable flavor ideotypes; and development of procedures that allow maximizing the selection of specific flavor types.
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