Transgenic Cassava

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Type of Publication:
cassava, transformation, cyanogenic glycosides, starch, root
Wiley Online Library
In Kole, C. & Hall, T. C. (editors), Transgenic sugar, tuber and fiber crops, Wiley-Blackwell. Abstract: Cassava is the primary staple crop for over 500 million people, primarily living in the tropical regions of the world. Among crops directly eaten by humans, cassava ranks fifth in consumption. Cassava is a shrubby, perennial, root crop native to Brazil. Under ideal conditions, cassava is capable of producing up to 90 ton roots per hectare containing 20–30% starch by fresh weight. Cassava has one of the highest photosynthetic rates for a C3 plant, and the highest rate of sucrose production of any known plant. Due to its high drought tolerance, ability to grow in poor soils, resistance to generalized herbivores, and ability to harvest roots piecemeal for up to 3 years after planting; cassava has become an important food security crop for many subsistence farmers in the tropics. Cassava has shortcomings, however. Roots deteriorate 2–3 days after harvest and roots and leaves harbor cyanogenic glucosides rendering cassava toxic when not properly processed. Since many cultivars do not flower, cassava is propagated by stem cuttings. Because cassava is clonally propagated, it is an ideal crop for improvement through genetic engineering. Efforts are underway to biofortify cassava to provide a more balanced staple food.

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