Potato Grower

January 2018

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WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 97 protects against oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions associated with damage to nerves, muscles, vision and the immune system. In Failla's lab, researchers created a simulated digestive system including a virtual mouth, stomach and small intestine to determine how much provitamin A and vitamin E could potentially be absorbed by someone who eats a golden potato. Provitamin A carotenoids are converted by enzymes into vitamin A the body can use. Carotenoids are fat-soluble pigments that provide yellow, red and orange colors to fruits and vegetables. They are essential nutrients for animals and humans. "We ground up boiled golden potato and mimicked the conditions of these digestive organs to determine how much of these fat- soluble nutrients became biologically available," says Failla. The main goal of the work was to examine provitamin A availability. The findings of the high content and availability of vitamin E in the golden potato were an unanticipated and pleasant surprise, Failla says. The golden potato, which is not commercially available, was metabolically engineered in Italy by a team that collaborated with Failla on the study. The additional carotenoids in the tuber make it a more nutritionally dense food with the potential of improving the health of those who rely heavily on potatoes for nourishment. While plant scientists have had some success cross-breeding other plants for nutritional gain, Failla says the improved nutritional quality of the golden potato is only possible using metabolic engineering—the manipulation of plant genes in the lab. While some object to this kind of work, the research team stresses that this potato could eventually help prevent childhood blindness and illnesses and even death of infants, children and mothers in developing nations. "We have to keep an open mind, remembering that nutritional requirements differ in different countries and that our final goal is to provide safe, nutritious food to billions of people worldwide," said study co-author Giovanni Giuliano of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development at the Casaccia Research Center in Rome. Failla said "hidden hunger"— micronutrient deficiencies— has been a problem for decades in many developing countries because staple food crops were bred for high yield and pest resistance rather than nutritional quality. "This golden potato would be a way to provide a much more nutritious food that people are eating many times a week, or even several times a day," he says. Chureeporn Chitchumroonchokchai also worked on the study at Ohio State. It was supported by the Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, and the European Community. Zeba is a starch-based soil enhancement that reduces nutrient leaching and plant water stress. Crops produce more and yield higher quality. Learn more at www.Zeba.com Boost your potato yield, quality, and profits Zeba is a starch-based soil enhancement that reduces nutrient leaching 170774UniPho12h.indd 1 12/7/17 1:57 PM

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