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Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR Removes Bitter Compound in Potato Hairy Roots

August 15, 2018

Most tissues in potato (Solanum tuberosum) accumulate steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs) α-solanine and α-chaconine. These molecules confer a bitter taste to humans and are toxic to various organisms. Hence, reducing the SGA content in the tubers is requisite for potato breeding. Previous studies suggested that silencing several SGA synthetic genes leads to a decrease in SGAs.

Masaru Nakayasu, a scientist from Kobe University in Japan, led a team of Japanese researchers in knocking out St16DOX, a vital gene in SGA synthesis, in hopes of completely turning off SGA accumulation in potato hairy roots. The team used the potato hairy root culture system for the introduction of CRISPR-Cas9 vectors.

Two independent genome-edited potato hairy root lines showed no detectable SGAs but have high levels of the  St16DOX protein substrate. Analysis of these two lines revealed successfully-mutated sequences of St16DOX. This experimental system can aid the generation of SGA-free tetraploid potato.

For more information, read the article in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry.