Plant Science Innovation, Center for



Nigel J. Taylor

Edgar B. Cahoon

Date of this Version



Beyene, G., Solomon, F.R., Chauhan, R.D., Gaitán-Solis, E., Narayanan, N., Gehan, J., Siritunga, D., Stevens, R.L., Jifon, J., Van Eck, J., Linsler, E., Gehan, M., Ilyas, M., Fregene, M., Sayre, R.T., Anderson, P., Taylor, N.J. and Cahoon, E.B. (2017) Provitamin A biofortification of cassava enhances shelf life but reduces dry matter content of storage roots due to altered carbon partitioning into starch. Plant Biotechnol. J.

doi 10.1111/pbi.12862


© 2017 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License,


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 β-carotene. In this study, β-carotene concentrations in cassava storage roots were enhanced by coexpression 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 ≤50 lg/g DW, 15- to 20-fold increases relative to roots from nontransgenic plants. Approximately 85%–90% of these carotenoids accumulated as all-trans-β-carotene, the most nutritionally efficacious carotenoid. β-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 β-carotene-enhanced storage roots. Most significantly, an inverse correlation was observed between β-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 β-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.