A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Posted 1:55 PM by Tevita
Potatoes with a Nutritional Punch
From : SW News Herald
By SANDY MILLER HAYS, Agricultural Research ServiceTalk about a "vegetable for all seasons" — that's the potato.In the spring and summer, what picnic would be complete without potato salad? In the cooler months, nothing can beat a hearty potato soup. And just imagine how lonely that sizzling steak would be on your plate without its buddy, the baked potato.That's probably why the spud is Americans' favorite veggie; U.S. consumers eat about 130 pounds of potatoes per person every year. Now here's even more reason to love potatoes: They're loaded with good-for-you plant compounds called phytochemicals.
Although phytochemicals aren't considered essential vitamins or nutrients, they're thought to promote human health in a variety of wonderful ways, such as neutralizing cancer-causing agents and cell-damaging molecules called free radicals.In the past, folks have tended to associate phytochemicals with brightly colored fruits and veggies, or the dark green vegetables like broccoli or brussels sprouts. What tends to come to mind with potatoes is starch and carbs.But the scientists of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) say we need to adjust how we think about potatoes, because they're packed with substances called phenolic compounds that have all sorts of health-promoting capabilities, including antioxidant activity.The ARS scientists aren't just speculating about spuds. They've come up with new analytical methods that help them detect phytochemicals and their concentrations in the potatoes' skins and flesh.They've put these methods to work on some 100 wild and commercially grown potatoes, and have uncovered up to 60 different phytochemicals and vitamins. The lineup includes vitamin C, folic acid, chlorogenic acid, flavonoids, and one that's new to me and perhaps to you: kukoamines, which might be able to help lower blood pressure.Prior to a 2005 report by the Institute of Food Research, kukoamines had only been found in a Chinese medicinal plant called Lycium chinense. But the ARS research team in Washington State has used their new analytical methods to find more than five different kinds of kukoamines in potatoes grown right there in the Pacific Northwest.One question that remains unanswered at this point is whether we consumers could get enough of a phytochemical like kukoamine from eating normal-size servings of potatoes that contain it. Although plant breeding efforts in the past have tended to focus on making a crop more productive or more resistant to pests, new interest might be focused on breeding specifically to elevate the crop's nutrient content, once scientists have pinpointed the roles of the various healthful compounds.For example, one promising group of compounds is called flavonoids. These natural substances could help diminish the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases, respiratory problems such as asthma, and even certain cancers, such as prostate and lung cancer.There are other flavonoids, such as the anthocyanins in blueberries, that help wipe out free radicals before they can harm your body's cells and tissues. So far, the ARS researchers have shown that there can be as much as a 30-fold difference in the flavonoid concentrations in potato specimens—so there's lots of room to maneuver in a potato breeding program!Another appealing flavonoid is quercetin, which is abundant in red onions. Today the quercetin levels in potatoes are generally lower than those in the onions, but on the plus side, the average American eats more potatoes than red onions. It's possible that as the scientists keep probing the phytochemical content of potatoes, they'll find a potato with an unusually high content of quercetin—or something equally useful.There's certainly lots of room for exploration in the world of potato profiling. Take, for example, folic acid, which is very important in the diets of expectant mothers because of its role in proper fetal development. The ARS scientists looked at 70 types of potatoes and found a nearly three-fold difference between the high-folic-acid types and those with less of this important substance. Before they started their analysis, only six varieties of potato had ever been examined for folic acid content.Eventually, the scientists will turn their profiling results over to potato breeders—and someday in the not-too-distant future, we lucky consumers may all be enjoying Super-Spud!
* Comments:Post a Comment
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.