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Italy: Patata d'oro is rich in vitamins A and E

"Patata d'oro" is finally here: it has a bright yellow colour thanks to 3 bacterial genes as well as a high vitamin A and E content that remains unaltered during cooking, as proven by tests carried out on a simulator of the human digestive system.

As described in 'Plos One' magazine, it could be very good against diseases caused by the lack of vitamins, especially in poorer countries. The research lasted ten years and was conducted in the Enea alla Casaccia laboratories near Rome under the supervision of the Ministry for Agricultural Policy and European Commission and with the collaboration of the Bologna Consiglio per le ricerche agricole ed economiche (CREA) and Ohio University.

A 150 gram portion provides 42% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A and 34% of vitamin E in children. In women, the same portion provides respectively 15 and 17% of the daily recommended intakes. Researchers started with the "Desirée variety, which has a low carotenoid content (precursors of vitamin A)," told Giuliano to Ansa.

"The genes of the Erwinia herbicola bacteria were inserted into its Dna, which led to an increase vitamin A and E levels. It was a pleasant surprise, as we had only done so to increase beta-carotene levels."

The research first started in 2007 in collaboration with the University of Freiburg in Switzerland. The procedure is safe because the Erwinia herbicola bacteria is not harmful for humans and "even if it were, the genes that make the bacteria a pathogen would need to be transferred to the plant as well."

This choice was made because "bacteria can do the same things with a lot less genes compared to plants. Had we used carrot genes, it would have taken 6 genes instead of 3 to synthesise beta-carotene."

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