Overexpression of a putative nitrate transporter (StNPF1.11) increases plant height, leaf chlorophyll content and tuber protein content of young potato plants

Klaassen, Michiel T.; Dees, Dianka C.T.; Garrido, Rommel M.; Baéz, Jorge Alemán; Schrijen, Michiel; Baldeón Mendoza, Pablo G.; Trindade, Luisa M.


Nitrate (NO3-) fertilisers are commonly used to improve the yield and quality of most non-legume crops such as potato (Solanum tuberosum L.). Root cells absorb nitrate from the soil using plasma membrane-bound transporters. In this study, we overexpressed a putative nitrate transporter from potato (StNPF1.11) to study its effect on the level of tuber protein content in potato. At 10 weeks after planting, overexpression of StNPF1.11 increased the mean level of protein content of all n = 23 transformants by 42% compared with the wild-type control. The level of chlorophyll content in leaves (from upper and lower plant parts) also increased for several individuals at 10 weeks. Tuber yield (fresh) was not structurally impaired; however, the mean tuber dry matter content of the transformants was reduced by 3-8% at 19 weeks. At 19 weeks, an overall increase in protein content was not clearly observed. Throughout plant development, half of the transformants were taller than the control. A basic understanding of the mechanisms that regulate plant nitrogen uptake, transport and utilisation, enable the development of tools to improve both crop nutrition and crop quality that are needed to enhance the viability and sustainability of future plant production systems.