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11140024 PhD Mechanisms of senescent sweetening

Publication Date: 
3 July 2017
Author/Contact :
Jose Barrera-Gavira and Rob Hancock

Contractor :
The James Hutton Institute

Full Title: PhD Elucidating the Mechanisms of Senescent Sweetening in Stored Potato Tubers to Improve Storage Regimes and Identify Candidate Genes
Duration: October 2016 to September 2019

To achieve year round potato supply in the UK approximately 1.5 million tonnes of tubers are stored for up to 8 months each season.  Key to long term storage is maintenance of tuber quality, in particular the prevention of sugar accumulation is necessary to maintain acceptable fry colour and prevent acrylamide formation in processed products.

Storage for processing is typically undertaken at relatively high temperatures (> 8oC) in the presence of sprout suppressors to prevent low temperature sweetening.  However, tubers can undergo the distinct physiological process of senescent sweetening after prolonged storage (> 5 months) leading to significant losses. 

To investigate the biochemical and molecular mechanisms of senescent sweetening.
Metabolic changes associated with senescent sweetening will be examined using 13C-labelling. The hypothesis that senescent sweetening is caused by oxidative damage will be tested by quantifying key antioxidants and markers of oxidative stress in whole tubers, in starch containing amyloplasts and sugar respiring mitochondria.  An understanding of the molecular basis of senescent sweetening will be achieved using whole genome microarrays.  The project will significantly enhance understanding of the mechanisms of senescent sweetening providing predictive markers for sweetening and the tools to accelerate breeding for senescent sweetening resistance.

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