Genome Editing for Removal of Anti-Nutritional Alkaloids from Eggplant Fruit and Potato Tubers
Research project 5
Project researcher: Prof. Asaph Aharoni

Steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs) are nitrogen-containing specialized metabolites produced by various members of the Solanaceae family, including important cash crops such as potato (Solanum tuberosum), eggplant (S. melongena) and tomato (S. lycopersicum).

Some well-known representatives of this class include α-chaconine and α-solanine in potato, α-tomatine in tomato, α-solamargine and α-solasonine in eggplant. SGAs play a protective role against a wide range of plant pathogens and herbivores, however, at the same time they are considered anti-nutritional factors in our diet. High SGAs concentration in food is associated with bitterness and unpleasant sensations when eaten, leading to convulsions, dizziness and headache when consumed in high quantities. Thus, it is imperative to keep the levels of SGAs at the safe range for human consumption. Manipulating the biosynthesis of SGAs through genome editing provides the means to develop potato and eggplant varieties with modified levels and composition of these undesired substances.

The outcome of the project will be the development of potato and eggplant varieties with reduced levels and altered composition of SGAs. In potato tubers, the anti-nutritional SGAs (i.e. α-chaconine and α-solanine) will be present in minute amounts. Levels of potato tuber SGAs, typically increasing dramatically in storage and when exposed to light, will remain persistently low. In eggplant, SGAs-derived fruit bitterness will be eliminated. Thus, we expect this project to result in new and high-quality tuber and fruit products.

Research project 5 - Prof. Asaph Aharoni
Genetic transformation of eggplant (Solanum melongena.)
using cotyledon explants and Agrobacterium tumefaciens.
LC–qTOF instrument used for steroidal glycoalkaloid profiling.
מחקר 5 פרופ' אסף אהרוני
Transgenic potato plants (cv. Desire).
The main interest of the lab is in the regulation of plant metabolic pathways, in particularly those associated with specialized metabolism and its coordination with developmental and stress response programs.
Prof. Asaph Aharoni

Prof. Asaph Aharoni
Project researcher

Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science.

Email: asaph.aharoni@weizmann.ac.il

Phone: +972-8-9343643

Website: Prof. Asaph Aharoni

Laboratory website

Research areas:

  • The main interest of the lab is in the regulation of plant metabolic pathways, in particularly those associated with specialized metabolism and its coordination with developmental and stress response programs.

Research partners:

ד"ר יאנה קזצ'קובה

Dr. Yana Kazachkova
Postdoctoral researcher

institution:
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science.

Dr. Sayantan Panda

Dr. Sayantan Panda
Postdoctoral researcher

institution:
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science.
Gilat Research Center, Agricultural Research Organization.