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RNAi-mediated silencing of endogenous Vlnv gene confers stable reduction of cold-induced sweetening in potato (Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Désirée)

Hameed, Amir, Bilal, Rakhshanda, Latif, Farooq, Van Eck, Joyce, Jander, Georg, Mansoor, Shahid
Plant biotechnology reports 2018 v.12 no.3 pp. 175-185
Cauliflower mosaic virus, RNA interference, Solanum tuberosum, beta-fructofuranosidase, cold storage, color, food industry, gene targeting, genes, host plants, plant morphology, potato chips, potatoes, processing quality, promoter regions, reducing sugars, shelf life, small interfering RNA, sugar content, supply chain, transgenic plants, tubers, vacuoles
Potato tubers must be cold-stored to extend their shelf life and maintain an uninterrupted supply chain for food processors. However, a side-effect of low-temperature storage is manifested in terms of cold-induced sweetening (CIS) of potato tubers, which reduces the processing quality and the commercial value of the end-products. RNA interference (RNAi) technology, whereby transgene-derived small interfering RNAs can trigger the homology-based knockdown of cognate host genes and can initiate gene silencing, has been successfully applied in crop improvement through targeted gene knockout in host plants. In the current study, transgenic potato plants (Solanum tuberosum cv. Désirée) were generated, expressing a 300 bp hairpin loop nucleotide sequence targeting the potato vacuolar invertase gene (VInv), under the constitutive Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter. Tubers collected from transgenic lines showed a significant reduction in reducing sugar content after 180 days of cold storage, without showing any measurable off-target effects on plant morphology and tuberization compared to non-transformed control plants. The cold-stored tubers were further assayed for chip color, which showed a fairly light colored quality in the samples originating from RNAi lines. Together with similar effects seen in previously published experiments involving other potato varieties, the Désirée results described here establish the efficacy of using RNAi for the successful reduction of CIS in potato tubers.