Plant Science

Metabolomics of organic and conventionally grown potato

Metabolic profiling by mass spectrometry is one of the modern ‘omics technologies that can be used to compare crops grown under different production practices and environmental conditions. As part of an EUfunded project on comparative safety assessment methods (SAFEFOODS), potatoes were grown in a twoyear experiment using conventional and organic fertiliser and conventional and organic crop protection (pesticide) regimes. In the second year, the potatoes were grown after two different pre-crops, winter barley and spring beans. Principal component analysis showed graphical evidence of differences between the two years (first principal component scores in figure) and also between the conventional and organic fertiliser treatment (second principal component scores). Formal over-years analyses of the metabolites confirmed that these were the major effects, and that there was little evidence that either the pre-crop or the choice of conventional or organic pesticide affected the levels of metabolites. Levels of twenty amino acids were consistently reduced by the organic fertiliser compared to the conventional, probably associated with the lower nitrogen content of the potatoes grown with organic fertiliser. By contrast, no differences were detected in the levels of poly-unsaturated fatty acids. This approach provides a useful tool to differentiate between growing practices and to identify the metabolites affected.

Principal component (PC) plot Principal component (PC) plot of metabolites identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The points indicate type of fertiliser application (filled = conventional, open = organic) as well as year of planting (shape of symbol).

Further details from: Colin Alexander, Christine Hackett
and Jim McNicol

Article date 2013

Consultancy Advice & Collaboration

Plant Science

Animal Health & Welfare

Ecology & Environmental Science

Human Health & Nutrition