MARKER-ASSISTED SELECTION - A POTENTIAL APPROACH TO BREED PREBIOTIC-RICH YACON PLANTS (SMALLANTHUS SONCHIFOLIUS)
Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius), a root crop of South American origin, is considerably rich in health-related substances, such as antioxidants and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). FOS are prebiotics that are thought to selectively promote the growth of health-promoting bacteria (bifidobacteria) while reducing pathogenic bacteria populations. They are reported to positively influence the immune response, glucose homeostasis and lipid metabolism, which therefore reduce the glycemic levels, body weight and colon cancer risk. Those health benefits have increased the interest on yacon and its functional foods. The present review aims to discuss these properties attributed to yacon plants and their bioactive compounds. Additionally, we look at the possibility of identifying major quantitative trait loci and genebased markers associated with high fructan content, and how they can be used via marker-assisted selection (MAS) to breed prebiotic rich yacon plants.