Improving the Nutritional Value of Potatoes by Conventional Breeding and Genetic Modification

  • John E. Bradshaw


As the potato is a major food crop, improving the nutritional value of its tubers will contribute to the United Nations “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, provided potato production is also increased. Realistic targets for conventional breeding are the following: ensuring tuber steroidal glycoalkaloids do not exceed 20 mg 100 g−1 fresh-weight; reducing acrylamide formation in crisps (chips) and French fries below benchmark levels of 750 and 500 μg kg−1, respectively; reducing glycaemic index by increasing the amount of resistant starch; increasing protein quantity and quality; and increasing the concentrations of the minerals iron and zinc and the vitamins B9 and C. Red-fleshed and purple-fleshed potatoes contain anthocyanins which are antioxidants and yellow-fleshed and orange-fleshed ones contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which protect against macular eye degeneration. Genetic variation exists for all of these traits among modern cultivars and Andean landraces; but some traits lack rapid screens for use in breeding, and there are still issues over bioavailability of some nutrients. Genetic engineering can be used to control glycoalkaloid concentrations and acrylamide-forming potential; to increase dietary fibre through the introduction of inulins from globe artichoke; to increase protein quality and quantity by tuber-specific expression of a seed protein, Amaranth Albumin 1, from Amaranthus hypochondriacus; and to alter carotenoid biosynthesis to produce beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A (Golden Potatoes), or astaxanthin, a feed additive in aquaculture.


Glycoalkaloids Acrylamide Glycaemic index Protein content Minerals Vitamins Anthocyanins Carotenoids 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Bradshaw
    • 1
  1. 1.Retired Plant Breeder and GeneticistJames Hutton InstituteDundeeUK

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