36 FOOD & DRINK TECHNOLOGY
more suited to industrial and food processing could be generated.
Neiker-Tecnalia, the Basque Institute of Agricultural Research and Development, is carrying out just such a project using molecular and genetic tools in order to obtain high- quality starch in potato tubers of the species Solanum tuberosum.
Te aim of the research is to produce starches which have better physicochemical characteristics for industrial use, as well as for producing healthier and more functional foodstuffs. Techniques such as allele mining, inverse genetics, mapping by association and in vitro assays will be used to evaluate the different starches produced.
Allele mining is used to identify allelic variations for the relevant traits within a collection of genetic resources. It has already been used with a number of other commercial varieties of potatoes and with germplasm of the Solanum genus in order to analyse the variability of alleles of genes that code for SBE with reduced or zero activity.
In a complementary manner, mutated dihaploid potatoes were produced through inverse genetics in order to study the mechanisms of the
genes involved. Moreover, an in vitro test was used for the rapid analysis of the enzymatic activity of the SBE alleles, in such a way that it was not necessary to obtain homozygotic plants for these alleles and only the alleles of interest form part of the enhancement process.
A drastic reduction of the content of amylopectin means a reduction of the total content of starch. Tis is an obstacle for genetic improvement, as the greater the dose of SBE alleles induced, the less will be the starch yield. To eliminate this problem, clones were selected with more effective capacity for the biosynthesis of starch. Tis is achieved with the help of gene-mapping by association. With this technique, alleles with better performances were detected in the starch biosynthesis route. In this way, DNA molecular markers with diagnostic value are sought for the genetic enhancement of varieties of high-yield potatoes.
New types of starch will make it possible to obtain transparent gels without disagreeable odours and, moreover, which have optimum conditions of adhesiveness and reactivity, as well as good qualities for the formation of films. For example, starches with a high content of amylose have better viscosity
characteristics and are useful in the manufacture of paper, adhesives, or in the textile industry. Starches with a high content of phosphate can be used to produce synthetic polymers.
As regards the production of healthier foods, the improvement in the amylose content will optimise nutritional content and give varieties of potato that can be used as functional foods. For example, being fibre-enriched such starches have a lower calorific value (Fig. 1).
Te R&D activities are being undertaken within the umbrella of a European ERA-NET project within the plant genomics section. Te project is co-financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation within the framework of the Euroresearch (EU2009-04028) programme.
Neiker-Tecnalia is working on the project with a number of Spanish and German private companies and research centres, including: German potato breeding company Bioplant; the IME-Fraunhofer Institute of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology, also in Germany; Spanish potato breeding company Appacale; and the the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Germany.
Moisture consistency is key in food quality control
The food industry relies on consistent measurements of moisture in its products to keep a handle on quality control. If there is a variation in moisture, there is a variation in quality and performance of the manufacturer’s product. Adam Equipment’s
PMB Moisture Balance offers the right features to provide
the required consistency in measurement for www.scientistlive.com
companies in the food, water treatment, plastics and paper industries (to name a few). To measure the amount of moisture
in a food sample, the sample is heated and dried, measuring the loss of weight and the loss of moisture. The more moisture in a food product, the more quickly it can degrade, causing product loss and cost increases for the manufacturer. Adam Equipment’s PMB Moisture
Analyzer features a one-of-a-kind USB port to help record and monitor moisture loss. Simply insert a memory stick in the USB port and it records the moisture
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Enter 36 or ✔ at www.scientistlive.com/eurolab
Adam Equipment is based in Milton Keynes, UK.
“More than 40 per cent of current crop production among the top ten food crops is lost to pests and diseases annually and that is a huge loss for farmers…”
Cathie Woteki, USDA under secretary for research, education and economics.
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