From Bio Journal - June 2017

Epigenetically modified potato moves to outdoor trials

On 20 April 2017, the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), under the jurisdiction of MAFF, and Hirosaki University (Aomori Prefecture) held a joint press conference announcing the start of outdoor cultivation trials of an epigenetically modified potato developed by the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Science, Hirosaki University. The purpose of the trials is an assessment of impacts on biodiversity. This potato was formerly known as an epigenome edited potato and blocks the working of genes by methylation (deactivation) of DNA using the RNA interference method.

Regarding potatoes that use the RNA interference method, the acrylamide reduced and bruising and black spot reduced potatoes developed by the J.R. Simplot Company are already being cultivated in the USA, but these have blocked the working of genes by destroying the messenger RNA.

In the Hirosaki University potatoes, the workings of the DNA and RNA remain as they are, but by working on the epigenetics the invertase gene and the CBSSI gene have been invalidated. It is reported that invalidating the invertase gene, it becomes possible to suppress scorching when manufacturing potato chips, and by invalidating the CBSSI gene it becomes possible to reduce amylose starch. It is reported that reducing amylose starch increases the stickiness of the potato, making it more chewy and gooey when eaten.

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