Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Protein Packed Potato

The sheer effectiveness of the potato plant as a food delivery system is hard to overstate.  Adding protein content is just good sense and improves a billion diets for negligible inputs.

That two versions of our favorite toxic plant the nightshade should produce the potato and the tomato is itself unusual.  Yet its real strength happens to be that the plant itself is toxic and is able to protect its tubers and fruit until well into harvest.  It is unusual to have a plant that works so actively to meet your goals.

Per acre productivity of the potato is huge compared to other crops and supported Europe’s population explosion during the industrial revolution.  I am not sure exactly how it compares with rice culture, but I suspect it takes a lot less work per produced ton per acre.

It should anchor all subsistence operations were possible as it and its tropical varieties generally do.

Researchers develop protein-packed potato in India
Mon Sep 20, 3:01 PM

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Researchers in India have developed a genetically modified potato that is packed with up to 60 percent more protein and increased levels of amino acids.
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday, the scientists expressed hope that the transgenic potato would find more acceptance because it uses a gene from the amaranth seed, another edible crop.
"Because potato constitutes an important part of the diet of many people in developed as well as developing countries, it is apparent that this can add value to potato-based products with enhanced benefits for better human health," they wrote.
Amaranth is a tall, broadleaf plant that produces tiny seeds. It was a major food of the Aztecs and earlier American cultures, and started to be grown as a grain crop in the United States in the late 1970s.
One of its genes, Amaranth Albumin 1 (AmA1), is regarded as agriculturally important because it endows the plant and its seeds with high protein levels and higher concentrations of several essential amino acids.
Led by Subhra Chakraborty at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research in New Delhi, the scientists inserted the gene into seven types of potatoes and then grew the transgenic potatoes over two years.
They found that the transgenic potatoes contain between 35 and 60 percent more protein than unmodified potatoes. They also contain increased levels of amino acids, notably lysine, tyrosine and sulphur, which are usually limited in potatoes.
These had been fed to rats and rabbits with no adverse consequences, the scientists said.
More than a billion people worldwide consume potatoes daily.

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