Scientists from the National Institute of Agricultural Technology – INTA of Argentina, the public entity in charge of carrying out and centralizing agricultural research in the country, are close to releasing the first genetically edited potato in Latin America, according to a report by Agro-Bio.
The development aimed to turn off the gene that causes the potato to darken after being cut, peeled, or from being hit during the harvesting and transportation process. This trait, known as enzymatic browning, occurs due to the oxidation of the potato and alters the flavor, texture, and color, thus affecting its nutritional properties and the quality of the product.
The browning and bruising of potatoes causes millions in losses for farmers, in addition to promoting food waste in supermarkets and homes when consumers discard the product due to its poor appearance.
Through the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genetic editing technique, within the framework of Dr. Matías González’s doctoral thesis developed in the Agrobiotechnology Laboratory of the Balcarce Agricultural Experimental Station (INTA) co-directed by Dr. Sergio Feingold and Dr. Gabriela Massa, managed to turn off the gene that encodes the expression of polyphenol oxidase enzymes, responsible for browning.
In tests carried out, they showed that genetically edited potato zest can spend up to 48 hours exposed to air without darkening , a state that conventional potatoes reach in just a few minutes.
The edited potato has already been submitted to the Prior Consultation Instance before the Argentine regulatory authority, who concluded that the product is considered conventional because it does not have genes from other distant organisms, which means that the potato should not follow the regulatory framework designated for transgenic crops.
The Argentine institute recently received government subsidies to continue its potato research to obtain genetically edited varieties that resist cold-induced sweetening, an improvement that would have a direct impact on the potato chip industry.
Source: Agro-Bio. Full report here
Photo: Credit Agro-Bio