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.
Sweetpotato is the seventh most important food crop in the world. It is mainly used for human food, animal feed, and for manufacturing starch and alcohol. This crop, a highly heterozygous, generally self-incompatible, outcrossing polyploidy, poses numerous challenges for the conventional breeding. Its productivity and quality are often limited by abiotic and biotic stresses. Gene engineering has been shown to have the great potential for improving the resistance to these stresses as well as the nutritional quality of sweetpotato. To date, an Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation system has been developed for a wide range of sweetpotato genotypes. Several genes associated with salinity and drought tolerance, diseases and pests resistance, and starch, carotenoids and anthocyanins biosynthesis have been isolated and characterized from sweetpotato. Gene engineering has been used to improve abiotic and biotic stresses resistance and quality of this crop. This review summarizes major research advances made so far in improving agronomically important traits by gene engineering in sweetpotato and suggests future prospects for research in this field.
Sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam], which contains high levels of antioxidants such as ascorbate and carotenoids in its storage root, is one of the healthiest foods, as well as one of the best starch crops for growth on marginal lands. In plants, carotenoid pigments are involved in light harvesting for photosynthesis and are also essential for photo-protection against excess light. As dietary antioxidants in humans, these compounds benefit health by alleviating aging-related diseases. The storage root of sweetpotato is a good source of both carotenoids and carbohydrates for human consumption. Therefore, metabolic engineering of sweetpotato to increase the content of useful carotenoids represents an important agricultural goal. This effort has been facilitated by cloning of most of the carotenoid biosynthetic genes, as well as the Orange gene involved in carotenoid accumulation. In this review, we describe our current understanding of the regulation of biosynthesis, accumulation and catabolism of carotenoids in sweetpotato. A deeper understanding of these topics should contribute to development of new sweetpotato cultivars with higher levels of nutritional carotenoids and abiotic stress tolerance.
The development of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has enabled the determination of whole genome sequences in many non-model plant species. However, genome sequencing in sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam) is still difficult because of the hexaploid genome structure. Previous studies suggested that a diploid wild relative, I. trifida (H.B.K.) Don., is the most possible ancestor of sweetpotato. Therefore, the genetic and genomic features of I. trifida have been studied as a potential reference for sweetpotato. Meanwhile, several research groups have begun the challenging task of directly sequencing the sweetpotato genome. In this manuscript, we review the recent results and activities of large-scale genome and transcriptome analysis related to genome sequence dissection in sweetpotato under the sections as follows: I. trifida genome and transcript sequencing, genome sequences of I. nil (Japanese morning glory), transcript sequences in sweetpotato, chloroplast sequences, transposable elements and transfer DNA. The recent international activities of de novo whole genome sequencing in sweetpotato are also described. The large-scale publically available genome and transcript sequence resources and the international genome sequencing streams are expected to promote the genome sequence dissection in sweetpotato.
Sweetpotato is one of the most important food crop species in the world, with more than 104,000,000 tons produced each year, and the breeding of superior cultivars with agronomically important traits, such as improved disease resistance, yield, and nutrient richness, is necessary, especially in developing countries. However, as a result of the crop’s complex genomic architecture, which results from its hexaploidy (2n = 6× = 90), high heterozygosity, huge genome, and outcrossing nature, the analysis of genetic linkage in sweetpotato has been challenging. In addition, the lack of whole genome sequences or gene annotations for cultivated hexaploids has interrupted the validation of mapped QTL regions and gene cloning. In spite of these technical difficulties, linkage map construction and QTL mapping analysis have been reported. This review summarizes the results of these linkage analyses, which used SSR, AFLP, and retrotransposon-based molecular markers, and describes future directions for the genetic analysis and marker-assisted breeding of this important but genetically complex crop species.
In addition to the nutritionally important components such as starches, vitamins and minerals, storage roots and leaves of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) contains several components with health-promoting functions. Of these, the functionalities of carotenoids, anthocyanins and caffeoylquinic acids have been well established by in vitro and in vivo experiments. Several sweetpotato cultivars containing high levels of these components have been developed in Japan; e.g., ‘Ayamurasaki’, which has high amounts of anthocyanin in its storage roots. To further improve the content and also to change the composition of these functional components, the identification of the genes involved in their biosynthesis and genetic modification of the biosynthetic pathway has been attempted. In this review, we summarize the present status of the research and breeding for these functional components, and we discuss the future prospects for improving sweetpotato functionality.
Carbohydrates are important components in sweetpotatoes in terms of both their industrial use and eating quality. Although there has been a narrow range of diversity in the properties of sweetpotato starch, unique varieties and experimental lines with different starch traits have been produced recently both by conventional breeding and genetic engineering. The diversity in maltose content, free sugar composition and textural properties in sweetpotato cultivars is also important for their eating quality and processing of storage roots. In this review, we summarize the current status of research on and breeding for these important traits and discuss the future prospects for research in this area.
Sweetpotato (Ipomoeae batatas (L.) Lam.) is an important food crop affected by several pests throughout the world, especially in tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions. Although Japan is relatively free from many serious sweetpotato pests, some pests, especially soil-borne pathogens, viruses, and insects such as plant-parasitic nematodes and weevils, cause severe damage in Japan. In this review, we describe the current status and management options for sweetpotato pests and diseases in Japan and review research related to sweetpotato breeding that can promote resistance to these problems. Furthermore, we describe methods to evaluate resistance to pests and disease used in sweetpotato breeding at the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO).