Starch accumulation and breakdown are vital processes in plant storage organs such as seeds, roots, and tubers. In tubers of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) a small fraction of starch is converted into the reducing sugars glucose and fructose. Reducing sugars accumulate in response to cold temperatures. Even small quantities of reducing sugars affect negatively the quality of processed products such as chips and French fries. Tuber starch and sugar content are inversely correlated complex traits that are controlled by multiple genetic and environmental factors. Based on in silico annotation of the potato genome sequence, 123 loci are involved in starch-sugar interconversion, approximately half of which have been previously cloned and characterized. By means of candidate gene association mapping, we identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in eight genes known to have key functions in starch-sugar interconversion, which were diagnostic for increased tuber starch and/or decreased sugar content and vice versa. Most positive or negative effects of SNPs on tuber-reducing sugar content were reproducible in two different collections of potato cultivars. The diagnostic SNP markers are useful for breeding applications. An allele of the plastidic starch phosphorylase PHO1a associated with increased tuber starch content was cloned as full-length cDNA and characterized. The PHO1a-HA allele has several amino acid changes, one of which is unique among all known starch/glycogen phosphorylases. This mutation might cause reduced enzyme activity due to impaired formation of the active dimers, thereby limiting starch breakdown.
Keywords: association mapping; complex trait; marker-assisted selection; potato (Solanum tuberosum L.); starch metabolism.
Copyright © 2014 Schreiber et al.