Dec. 18, 2006 If Russet Ranger were a kid rather than a potato, it might be eyeing top potato Russet Burbank and singing the last refrain in the one-potato, two-potato handclapping rhyme: "Icha bacha, soda cracker, out goes Y-O-U!"
For Russet Burbank's long reign as top potato for French fry production in the United States may be in jeopardy after scientists have muted the genes that left Russet Ranger undesirable for French fries.
Caius M. Rommens and colleagues in Idaho describe their successful modification of Russet Ranger -- without inserting any foreign DNA into the plant's genome -- in a report scheduled for the Jan. 10 issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
They explain that Russet Burbank has been the preferred variety for French fry production mainly because of its excellent storage characteristics. Russet Ranger grows better with higher yields, but stores poorly and bruises easily.
The researchers used gene-silencing technology to reduce Ranger's production of enzymes responsible for poor storage and the unsightly bruising. In addition to being tastier, for instance, French fries made from the new Ranger had lower levels of acrylamide, a compound that has been a source of health concerns about fried foods.
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