Friday, February 11, 2011

Potatoes have Lenticles!

Have you ever wondered what those spots are on a potato? Not the eyes but the white spots seen in this photo. They are breathing pores called lenticles.

The potato is a modified stem and stems have lenticles. These allow for the uptake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide. All living cells respire and require oxygen. During respiration, carbon dioxide is given off as a waste product.
This tuber grew in the orientation shown. The lenticles are much larger on the bottom of the tuber, the portion that was deeper in the ground. The portion of the tuber closest to the surface has lenticles so small they are difficult to see. The oxygen level decreases and the carbon dioxide level increases the deeper you go in the soil. As a result the lenticles have to be bigger at the bottom of the potato to maintain proper gaseous exchange. This tuber may also have been overwatered which also would have increased lenticle size.

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