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Chen-Yi Hung, John R. Murray, Sarah M. Ohmann, and Cindy B.S. Tong

The color of red potato tubers is due to an accumulation of anthocyanins in periderm and peripheral cortex tissues. The objective of this study was to characterize changes in anthocyanin content and tuber surface color during tuber development. Using the red tuber-producing potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) cultivar Norland, we observed that chroma (intensity of redness) and anthocyanin content per unit of surface area of greenhouse-grown tubers decreased as tuber weight increased. There was no increase in hue (tint) during the same developmental periods. Using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), we determined that pelargonidin and peonidin are the major anthocyanidins (aglycones of anthocyanins) in the tuber periderm. Northern blot analyses indicated that steady-state mRNA levels of dihydroflavonol reductase (DFR), an anthocyanin biosynthetic enzyme, continued throughout tuber development. These results suggest that anthocyanins are synthesized throughout tuber development, and that cell division and/or enlargement contribute to a decline in chroma and anthocyanin concentration.