Skip to main content
Doctoral thesis, 2013

Effect of wounding and light exposure on sterol, glycoalkaloid, and calystegine levels in potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L. group Tuberosum)

Arif, Usman


Steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGA) are neurotoxic substances that are present in some members of the Solanaceae family, including crop species like potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and tomato. The SGA level in the potato tuber is a genetic trait, but certain environmental factors such as wounding and light exposure can increase SGA levels several-fold, which may render tubers unsuitable for human consumption. There is little information about SGA biosynthesis. The sterol cholesterol is commonly regarded as a SGA precursor, but there is little evidence for this view. To increase our understanding of the SGA biosynthesis and its molecular regulation, a microarray screen was performed using tubers from two potato cultivars subjected to wound and light treatments. Along with an alteration of sterol and SGA levels, the treatments were associated with an up-regulation of a small set of genes in sterol and SGA metabolism, including a gene encoding for the sterol reductase DWF1. DWF1 genes were found in two differentially regulated subtypes; DWF1 and DWF1-like (DWF1-L). Alteration of DWF1 and DWF1-L expression in transgenic potato showed a role for these genes in sterol and SGA synthesis. Also up-regulated in the microarray study were three transaminase-like genes, and role of StTAM1 in SGA synthesis was investigated by overexpression in transgenic potato. This resulted in elevated SGA levels, indicating the presence of a transamination in SGA synthesis. The genetic variation and stress responsiveness in Swedish potato cultivars regarding SGA and calystegine alkaloids (CA) level was determined by subjecting tubers to wounding, light exposure and elevated temperature. Only light and wounding increased SGA levels, and variation in the response was observed among the cultivars. CA levels were not stress-regulated, indicating that SGA and CA synthesis are not interrelated. These results show that the SGA level in potato tubers are regulated by a concerted action of a small set of key genes acting at different steps in the sterol and SGA pathways. Results also demonstrate a genetic variation in stress responsiveness among Swedish potato cultivars, and have identified the most sensitive ones. Results could in the near future be used to improve post-harvest handling of potato cultivars.


Sterols; Glycoalkaloids; Calystegines

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2013, number: 2013:45
ISBN: 978-91-576-7829-4
Publisher: Department of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Arif, Usman
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Biology

UKÄ Subject classification

Genetics and Breeding
Plant Biotechnology

URI (permanent link to this page)