Provitamin A biofortification of cassava enhances shelf life but reduces dry matter content of storage roots due to altered carbon partitioning into starch. Academic Article uri icon


  • Storage roots of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), a major subsistence crop of sub-Saharan Africa, are calorie rich but deficient in essential micronutrients, including provitamin A -carotene. In this study, -carotene concentrations in cassava storage roots were enhanced by co-expression of transgenes for deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate synthase (DXS) and bacterial phytoene synthase (crtB), mediated by the patatin-type 1 promoter. Storage roots harvested from field-grown plants accumulated carotenoids to 50g/g DW, 15- to 20-fold increases relative to roots from nontransgenic plants. Approximately 85%-90% of these carotenoids accumulated as all-trans--carotene, the most nutritionally efficacious carotenoid. -Carotene-accumulating storage roots displayed delayed onset of postharvest physiological deterioration, a major constraint limiting utilization of cassava products. Large metabolite changes were detected in -carotene-enhanced storage roots. Most significantly, an inverse correlation was observed between -carotene and dry matter content, with reductions of 50%-60% of dry matter content in the highest carotenoid-accumulating storage roots of different cultivars. Further analysis confirmed a concomitant reduction in starch content and increased levels of total fatty acids, triacylglycerols, soluble sugars and abscisic acid. Potato engineered to co-express DXS and crtB displayed a similar correlation between -carotene accumulation, reduced dry matter and starch content and elevated oil and soluble sugars in tubers. Transcriptome analyses revealed a reduced expression of genes involved in starch biosynthesis including ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase genes in transgenic, carotene-accumulating cassava roots relative to nontransgenic roots. These findings highlight unintended metabolic consequences of provitamin A biofortification of starch-rich organs and point to strategies for redirecting metabolic flux to restore starch production.

published proceedings

  • Plant Biotechnol J

altmetric score

  • 28.8

author list (cited authors)

  • Beyene, G., Solomon, F. R., Chauhan, R. D., Gaitn-Solis, E., Narayanan, N., Gehan, J., ... Cahoon, E. B.

citation count

  • 33

complete list of authors

  • Beyene, Getu||Solomon, Felix R||Chauhan, Raj D||Gaitán-Solis, Eliana||Narayanan, Narayanan||Gehan, Jackson||Siritunga, Dimuth||Stevens, Robyn L||Jifon, John||Van Eck, Joyce||Linsler, Edward||Gehan, Malia||Ilyas, Muhammad||Fregene, Martin||Sayre, Richard T||Anderson, Paul||Taylor, Nigel J||Cahoon, Edgar B

publication date

  • June 2018