Common garden experiment reveals altered nutritional values and DNA methylation profiles in micropropagated three elite Ghanaian sweet potato genotypes

Belinda Akomeah, Marian D. Quain, Sunita A. Ramesh, Lakshay Anand, Carlos M. Rodríguez López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Micronutrient deficiency is the cause of multiple diseases in developing countries. Staple crop biofortification is an efficient means to combat such deficiencies in the diets of local consumers. Biofortified lines of sweet potato (Ipomoea batata L. Lam) with enhanced beta-carotene content have been developed in Ghana to alleviate Vitamin A Deficiency. These genotypes are propagated using meristem micropropagation to ensure the generation of virus-free propagules. In vitro culture exposes micropropagated plants to conditions that can lead to the accumulation of somaclonal variation with the potential to generate unwanted aberrant phenotypes. However, the effect of micropropagation induced somaclonal variation on the production of key nutrients by field-grown plants has not been previously studied. Here we assessed the extent of in vitro culture induced somaclonal variation, at a phenotypic, compositional and genetic/epigenetic level, by comparing field-maintained and micropropagated lines of three elite Ghanaian sweet potato genotypes grown in a common garden. Although micropropagated plants presented no observable morphological abnormalities compared to field maintained lines, they presented significantly lower levels of iron, total protein, zinc, and glucose. Methylation Sensitive Amplification Polymorphism analysis showed a high level of in vitro culture induced molecular variation in micropropagated plants. Epigenetic, rather than genetic variation, accounts for most of the observed molecular variability. Taken collectively, our results highlight the importance of ensuring the clonal fidelity of the micropropagated biofortified lines in order to reduce potential losses in the nutritional value prior to their commercial release.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0208214
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright: © 2019 Akomeah et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • DNA methylation
  • Sweet potato
  • Epigenetics
  • Genetic loci
  • Tubers
  • Genetic polymorphism
  • Cytosine
  • Methylation


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