• Open Access

Pectin engineering to modify product quality in potato


(fax +44 (0) 1382 562426; email Mark.Taylor@scri.ac.uk)


Although processed potato tuber texture is an important trait that influences consumer preference, a detailed understanding of tuber textural properties at the molecular level is lacking. Previous work has identified tuber pectin methyl esterase (PME) activity as a potential factor impacting on textural properties, and the expression of a gene encoding an isoform of PME (PEST1) was associated with cooked tuber textural properties. In this study, a transgenic approach was undertaken to investigate further the impact of the PEST1 gene. Antisense and over-expressing potato lines were generated. In over-expressing lines, tuber PME activity was enhanced by up to 2.3-fold; whereas in antisense lines, PME activity was decreased by up to 62%. PME isoform analysis indicated that the PEST1 gene encoded one isoform of PME. Analysis of cell walls from tubers from the over-expressing lines indicated that the changes in PME activity resulted in a decrease in pectin methylation. Analysis of processed tuber texture demonstrated that the reduced level of pectin methylation in the over-expressing transgenic lines was associated with a firmer processed texture. Thus, there is a clear link between PME activity, pectin methylation and processed tuber textural properties.