An intensive international effort to improve the nutritional value of cassava -- a staple food for millions of poverty stricken people in sub-Sahara Africa and other areas -- has led to development of a New form of cassava that may be easier to digest than other varieties.
Also known as yucca or manioc, the roots of the plant are similar to potatoes and are often eaten boiled or deep fried. The roots are also used to make flour, tapioca, and a wide range of other food products. While the roots are low in protein and vitamins, they are an abundant source of starch. But the starch contains relatively high levels of amylose, which can be difficult to digest.
In the new study, Hernan Ceballos and colleagues identified a variety of cassava with less than 3 percent amylose, compared to 18-24 percent of the hard-to-digest material in traditional cassava. "This is the first report of a natural mutation in cassava that drastically reduces amylose content in root starch," the study states. This mutation may also be better suited for the production of bioethanol, it adds.
Article: "Discovery of an Amylose-free Starch Mutant in Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz)" Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, September 5, 2007.
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