Genetic Transformation of Sweet Potato for Improved Tolerance to Stress: A Review

Mary C. Imbo, Nancy L. M. Budambula, Cecilia M. Mweu, Joshua Kiilu Muli, Sylvester E. Anami


The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas Lam) is a major staple food in many parts of the world. Sweet potato leaves and tubers are consumed as food and livestock feed. Biotic and abiotic stresses affect yield leading to a reduction in production. This review analyzes factors limiting sweet potato production and the progress made towards stress tolerance using genetic transformation. Genetic transformation could enhance yield, nutritional value and tolerance to stress. Transgenic sweet potatoes tolerant to biotic and abiotic stress, improved nutritional value and higher yields have been developed. Sweet potato expressing the endotoxin cry8Db, cry7A1 and cry3Ca genes showed lower sweet potato weevil infestation than non-transformed lines. Transgenic cultivar ‘Xushu18’ expressing the oryzacystatin-1 (OC1) gene showed enhanced resistance to sweet potato stem nematodes. Sweet potato line ‘Chikei 682-11’ expressing the coat protein (CP) exhibited resistance to the sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV). Transgenics expressing the rice cysteine inhibitor gene oryzacystatin-1 (OC1) also exhibited resistance to the SPFMV. Transgenic cultivar ‘Kokei’ expressing the spermidine synthetase gene FSPD1 had higher levels of spermine in the leaves and roots, and displayed enhanced tolerance to drought and salt stress. ‘Shangshu’ variety expressing the IbMas has shown enhanced tolerance to salt stress. Transgenic ‘Lixixiang’ expressing IbMIPSI showed an up-regulation of metabolites involved in stress response to drought, salinity and nematode infestation. Transgenic ‘Yulmi’ sweet potato transformed with copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD) gene showed an enhanced tolerance to methyl viologen induced oxidative and chilling stress. Similarly, transformation of cultivar ‘Sushu-2’ with betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH) gene resulted in transgenics tolerant to salt, chilling and oxidative stress. Sweet potato varieties ‘Kokei14’ and ‘Yulmi’ transformed with the bar gene were shown to be tolerant to application of the herbicide Basta. The development of stress tolerant varieties will immensely increase the area under sweet potato production and eventually promote the adoption of sweet potato as a commercial crop. Sweet potato research and breeding for stress tolerance still faces technical and socio-political hurdles. Despite these challenges, genetic transformation remains a viable method with immense potential for the improvement of sweet potato.

Key words: Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas Lam), Stress, Genetic Transformation, Transgenic

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ISSN (Paper)2224-7181 ISSN (Online)2225-062X

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