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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Plant Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #385204

Research Project: Functional Genomics for Improving Nutrients and Quality in Alfalfa and Soybean

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Potato improvement through genetic engineering

item DEL MAR MARTINEZ-PRA, MARIA - University Of Leon
item Curtin, Shaun
item GUTIERREZ-GONZALES, JUAN - University Of Leon

Submitted to: GM Crops & Food
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2021
Publication Date: 1/6/2022
Citation: Del Mar Martinez-Prada, M., Curtin, S.J., Gutierrez-Gonzalez, J.J. 2022. Potato improvement through genetic engineering. GM Crops & Food. 12(1):479-496.

Interpretive Summary: Potatoes are a major stable food around the world. However, potato production is vulnerable to diseases and insect pests. Plant breeders have improved the crop for yield, nutritional quality and resistance to diseases, but progress has been slow. New novel potato varieties have been developed with insect and disease resistance and improved nutritional quality through use of genetic engineering but use of these methods have a negative public perception. Transfer of genes to improve the crop from wild potato species has more positive associations. Additionally, gene editing to introduce changes into potato genes accelerates development of improved potato varieties and their use will provide healthier potatoes for the consumer, a more stable food supply, and limit the crop’s impact on the environment.

Technical Abstract: Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is the third most important crop worldwide and a staple food for people in many countries. Genetically, it poses many challenges for traditional breeding because of its autotetraploid nature and its tendency toward inbreeding depression. Breeding programs have focused on productivity, nutritional quality, and disease resistance. Some of these traits exist in wild potato relatives but their introgression into elite cultivars can take many years and, for traits such as pest resistance, their effect is often short-lasting. These problems could be addressed by genetic engineering and open a wide horizon for potato crop improvement. Current genetically engineered (GE) varieties include those with Colorado potato beetle and late blight resistance, reduction in acrylamide, and modified starch content. Post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) and gene editing have been the most widely used methods for gene modification. Advances in these technologies will likely gain further relevance as increased target specificity and decreased off-target effects are demonstrated. In this review, we discuss recent work related to these technologies in potato improvement.