Biotech Updates

Improved Cold Storage Traits of Potato through Targeted Gene Knockout

April 8, 2015

Cold storage of potato tubers is used to extend postharvest shelf life. However, it can also stimulate the build-up of reducing sugars. Upon high-temperature processing, these sugars result in bitter potato products with high levels of the carcinogen acrylamide. A team led by Feng Zhang of Cellectis Plant Sciences Incorporated used RNA interference (RNAi) technology to silence the vacuolar invertase gene (VInv) to reduce production of these reducing sugars.

The team used transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) to knock out VInv in the commercial potato variety, Ranger Russet. Five of the 18 modified plants isolated had mutations in all VInv alleles. Tubers from full VInv-knockout plants had undetectable levels of reducing sugars, and processed chips contained reduced levels of acrylamide and were lightly coloured.

These results provide a framework for using TALENs to quickly improve traits in commercially relevant autotetraploid potato lines.

For more information, read the article on Plant Biotechnology Journal.