In recent years, much emphasis has been placed on functional/antioxidant properties of various fruits and vegetables and their contribution to human health. Since average per capita consumption of potatoes in the United States is about 137 pounds, even moderate levels of antioxidants could be viewed as an important human health benefit. Variation in antioxidant activity has not been extensively investigated for colored potatoes (specialty selections). Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate antioxidant activity of specialty selections from the Texas Potato Variety Development Program and identify elite lines to use in breeding for improvement of this trait. Potato tubers were also assessed for their outer appearance, skin color, flesh color, spoilage and yield characteristics. Specialty potato selections (320 lines) were screened for total antioxidant activity using the 2,2-Diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay. After an initial screening, the top 10 % of selections were reevaluated in the following year. Significant (P ≤ 0.01) differences were found among selections and, for some selections, differences were found between seasons. Total antioxidant activity ranged from 27 μg/gfw to 832 μg/gfw. The specialty selection CO112F2-2 (purple flesh) had the highest antioxidant activity (832 μg/gfw) irrespective of season. In most cases, purple flesh selections produced the highest antioxidant activity, probably due to the presence of anthocyanins, followed by yellow selections.
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