London: A team of Indian scientists has grown for the first time, a genetically modified spud called ‘protato’ that makes up to 60 per cent more protein per gram than ordinary potatoes.
Apart from that, the new crop created by Subra Chakraborty and colleagues at India``s Central Potato Research Institute in Shimla also yielded more potato per hectare, reports New Scientist.
The team gave the potatoes a gene from the grain amaranth, a South American plant widely eaten across the tropics, including India. It was linked to a DNA code that turns on production of the storage protein in tubers.
Tests in rats and rabbits revealed no toxic or allergic effects. However, the plants also photosynthesised more, and produced 15 to 25 per cent more potatoes per hectare by weight – the only time this has ever been reported for a plant with just one extra gene.
The team hopes that the new find can be used not only for industry or fodder, but also for boosting human nutrition.
Chakraborty said that the team is applying to Indian regulators for permission to sell the potato.
As far as the taste is concerned, he said, "Our data suggests better cooking, processing quality and palatability."