Genetic engineering of potato starch opens doors to industrial uses

Researchers use CRISPR technology to modify starches in potatoes

Potatoes are a rich source not only of dietary carbohydrates for humans, but also of starches for numerous industrial applications. Texas A&M AgriLife scientists are learning how to alter the ratio of potatoes’ two starch molecules, amylose and amylopectin, to increase both culinary and industrial applications.

For example, waxy potatoes, which are high in amylopectin content, have applications in the production of bioplastics, food additives, adhesives and alcohol.

Two articles recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences and the Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture journals outline how CRISPR technology can advance the uses of the world’s largest vegetable crop.

Among the various potato cultivars evaluated in the first study, the Yukon Gold strain regenerated the best, and so it was used for the second study. The native gene gbss in the tetraploid Yukon Gold strain was targeted to effectively eliminate amylose. The result was a potato with starch rich in amylopectin and low in amylose. Potatoes with amylopectin as the exclusive form of starch should also yield more ethanol for industrial use or to create alcoholic beverages.

Image credit- shutterstock

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