Crop Biotech Update

Healthful Tomatoes Developers Win Most Promising Innovator 2014 Award

March 26, 2014

John Innes Centre (JIC) scientists bagged the BBSRC Award for "Most Promising Innovator 2014" for developing tomato varieties with high levels of beneficial compounds. Prof. Cathie Martin and Dr. Eugenio Butelli aimed to redefine the meaning of healthy food by boosting healthful compounds in tomato. One variety has purple fruit containing the same level of anthocyanins as half basket of blueberries. Another one produces large orange tomatoes weighing ~100g which has the same amount of a beneficial compound as 27 bottles of red wine. Another tomato variety has yellow fruit which contains levels of genistin, present in soy products, equal to 150g of tofu. The fourth variety has quercetin and kaempferol, health-promoting compounds normally found in capers, radishes, onions, and watercress.

The bioactive compounds present in the tomato varieties are known to offer protection against inflammation, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Thus, the research will help elucidate how the protective mechanisms function and which compounds are most helpful for the body. The tomatoes also offer an innovative business model which can be used to navigate the regulatory hurdles associated with genetic engineering.

Read the media release at