2017 Volume 67 Issue 1 Pages 3-14
Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) is an outcrossing hexaploid that is cultivated in the tropics and warm-temperate regions of the world. Sweetpotato has played an important role as a famine-relief crop during its long history and has recently been reevaluated as a health-promoting food. In Japan, sweetpotato is used for a wide range of applications, such as table use, processed foods, and alcohol and starch production, and two groups at National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) undertake the breeding of cultivars for these applications. Sweetpotato breeders utilize breeding processes such as grafting for flower induction and the identification of incompatibility groups before crossing to conquer problems peculiar to sweetpotato. For table use, new cultivars with high sugar content were released recently and have become popular among Japanese consumers. New cultivars with high anthocyanin or β-carotene content were released for processed foods and use as colorants. As raw materials, new cultivars with high alcohol yield were released for the production of shochu spirits. In addition, new cultivars with high starch yield and a cultivar containing starch with excellent cold-storage ability were released for starch production. This review deals with recent progress in sweetpotato breeding and cultivars for diverse applications in Japan.