North America, Research, Storage, Studies/Reports

Biochemistry offers path to help reduce losses during potato handling and storage

Massive losses in the United States’ number one vegetable crop, potatoes, aren’t only due to pests or drought, they’re due to damage in the handling and storage of potatoes over the months of storage on their way to the supermarket as fresh potatoes or as potato chips or fries.

As Mike Wolterbeek reports for Nevada Today, a biochemistry approach that seeks to identify genetic characteristics of the wound healing process in potatoes has had success in a project led by Dylan Kosma, a biochemist in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno.

In his work, completed as part of the College’s Experiment Station research, Kosma has identified the first transcription factors known to regulate deposition of components that make up the skin that forms during the wound healing process in potatoes.

One important component of potato tuber wound healing is the deposition of a corky material that makes up a large proportion of “skin” that covers wound sites, suberin. Poor suberin production during the wound healing process is a major culprit for post-harvest potato losses, but there is still relatively little known about its makeup and function. Even less is known about the genetic controls of wound suberin formation.

“We’re using the potato model to understand the biosynthesis and regulation of suberin,” Dylan Kosma said. “We will use genetic studies to help the potato breeders find the right combination of genes for breeding potatoes with better wound healing capacity and improved storage life to help reduce post-harvest losses.”

Source: Nevada Today. Read the full story here
Photo: Dylan Kosma, center, with his post doctoral researcher Vijaya Kumar Reddy Vulavala, readies to harvest his research crop of potatoes in the University of Nevada, Reno’s greenhouses at its Valley Road Experiment Station facility.

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