`White Jewel' is a yellow-and-orange fleshed spontaneous mutant of the orange-flesh sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] cultivar Jewel. Mutations in storage root flesh color, and other traits are common in sweetpotato. The orange flesh color of sweetpotato is due to β-carotene stored in chromoplasts of root cells. β-carotene is important because of its role in human health. In an effort to elucidate biosynthesis and storage of β-carotene in sweetpotato roots, microarray analysis was used to investigate genes differentially expressed between `White Jewel' and `Jewel' storage roots. β-carotene content calculated from a* color values of `Jewel' and `White Jewel' were 20.66 mg/100 g fresh weight (FW) and 1.68 mg/100 g FW, respectively. Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (IPI) was down-regulated in `White Jewel', but farnesyl-diphosphate synthase (FPPS), geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase (GGPS), and lycopene β-cyclase (LCY-b) were not differentially expressed. Several genes associated with chloroplasts were differentially expressed, indicating probable differences in chromoplast development of `White Jewel' and `Jewel'. Sucrose Synthase was down-regulated in `White Jewel' and fructose and glucose levels in `White Jewel' were lower than in `Jewel' while sucrose levels were higher in `White Jewel'. No differences were observed between dry weight or alcohol insoluble solids of the two cultivars. This study represents the first effort to elucidate β-carotene synthesis and storage in sweetpotato through large-scale gene expression analysis.
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