Rodale Institute, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and the Department of Food Science conducted a research study for ResearchGate.
- This research focuses on examining whether using a type of fungi arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) could increase the production and health of potatoes.
- The research concluded that using AMF led to an increase in the growth and quality of potatoes.
- AMF also boosted levels of antioxidants, ergothioneine, and sugar content in potatoes.
- Further research is needed to see which type of AMF is best for potatoes.
Potatoes are the most highly consumed vegetable in the United States and are the primary source of antioxidants in the American diet. Therefore, technologies and growing methods that aim to enhance the nutritional quality of potatoes can have positive impacts on public health. Based on past success with other food crops, we hypothesized that inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) would increase both the yield and nutritional quality of potatoes. To test this hypothesis, we grew yellow fleshed (cv. Lehigh) and purple fleshed (cv. Adirondack Blue) potatoes in containers with several monospecific AMF inoculants comprised of Rhizophagus irregularis, Funneliformis mosseae, or Claroideoglumus etunicatum, and one indigenous mixed species population inoculant. Overall, we found that AMF inoculation increased potato tuber yield by up to 23%, antioxidant activity by up to 120%, ergothioneine concentration by up to 9X, and soluble sugar concentration by up to 46%, and that the extent of these increases varied by mycorrhizal species. Future research should examine the extent to which inoculation with the most beneficial AMF species reported here improves yield and nutritional quality in the field setting.