Project Introduction

Project title: Improved breeding and variety evaluation methods to reduce acrylamide content and increase quality in processed potato products.

Potato is the most consumed vegetable in the US, with annual production valued at $4.0 billion. The long-term goal of this project is to facilitate the rapid, efficient development and adoption of new potato varieties that have exceptional agronomic, processing and consumer acceptance traits. An immediate critical need is to proactively reduce the acrylamide content of processed potato products in order to mitigate health concerns that have arisen with regard to acrylamide in food, and to remove the economic uncertainty associated with potential regulatory actions focused on acrylamide. Other critical needs addressed are those for rapid incorporation of desirable traits into potato breeding clones and for rapid industry response to emerging challenges and changing consumer preferences. Specific research and outreach objectives include:

Objective 1: Implement a coordinated, nationwide evaluation of varieties with potential to reduce acrylamide in processed products.

1a. Conduct multi-location trials to identify lines with the desired agronomic, tuber quality and processing traits and the potential to reduce acrylamide in the near term.

1b. Evaluate consumer attributes of trial lines to determine potential for commercialization.

1c. Explore new technologies for rapid measurement of tuber reducing sugars and asparagine and end product acrylamide content.

Objective 2: Establish quantitative goals for tuber reducing sugars and asparagine in next generation potato varieties.

2a. Create lines of Russet Burbank, Atlantic and MegaChip having a range of tuber reducing sugars and asparagine.

2b. Phenotypically and physiologically characterize gene silencing lines.

2c. Establish quantitative relationships between tuber composition and acrylamide in end products.

Objective 3: Identify and validate molecular markers associated with key agronomic and tuber quality traits that can increase the efficiency of potato breeding programs.

3a. Identify SNP markers for high value traits in russet potatoes.

3b. Combine the phenotypic evaluation of a mapping population with the genotype data generated by SolCAP to identify marker-trait association for genes with large effects on market traits.

3c. Determine the range of tuber asparagine in US potato germplasm and the heritability of tuber asparagine.

Objective 4: Quantify the economic value and risks associated with introducing new potato varieties that have low acrylamide forming potential.

4a. Estimate the net value and risks for growers of using new potato varieties and/or production methods to reduce acrylamide in finished products.

4b. Quantify the net value and risk to the potato processing industry associated with introducing new varieties and management practices.

4c. Analyze consumer perceptions regarding processed potato products including acrylamide content and use of GM tubers.

Objective 5: Implement a rapid method for deploying potato varieties that exceed expectations for quality throughout the potato industry and consistently yield chip and processed potato products with acrylamide contents lower than current benchmarks.

5a. Establish standardized agronomic trials for evaluating tuber productivity, quality, and assessing finished product quality.

5b. Develop production profiles and maturity indices for assessing retention of low acrylamide forming characteristics in chip and frozen processing lines.

5c. Develop storage profiles that optimize management of new varieties on a regional basis.

5d. Conduct on-farm commercial production trials with growers.

Outreach plan: Establish a strategy for deploying new varieties in cooperation with growers, grower organizations, seed producers, processors, distributors and the food service industry.

  • Establish effective channels of communication among stakeholders and researchers.
  • Establish procedures for evaluating research progress and implementing adjustments when and where needed.
  • Establish a database of key performance parameters for varieties and breeding lines.
  • Implement a process where lines identified by growers, processors and researchers can be evaluated on a commercial scale without substantial risk to individual growers.

The complete SCRI-Acrylamide project proposal is available here for download.