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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Why do potatoes go green?

Published: 12 October 2016
Green potatoes

Southampton biological scientist Dr Haruko Okamoto has embarked on a research project to understand how light can turn potatoes green. Shoppers are not keen to buy green potatoes and every year many thousands of tons of potatoes are thrown away, despite being perfectly good to eat if peeled.

“There is very little research in this area,” she explains. “Although we know the light environment is causing some potatoes to change colour, we do not know exactly how this happens and therefore how to stop it. Our aim is to help the potato industry avoid a great deal of wastage.”

The photobiologist has been awarded a grant of £126,264 from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for the 18 month project with Professor Matthew Terry also in Biological Sciences at Southampton, through Innovate UK. The collaboration also involves the potato growers Branston Ltd of Lincoln, the James Hutton Institute in Dundee as well as the supermarkets Waitrose and Tesco and the packaging company Amcor. A research technician has been recruited to join the team.

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