Biotech Updates

Anthocyanins Double the Shelf Life of Tomatoes

January 8, 2014

High anthocyanin in tomatoes can significantly extend shelf life, John Innes Centre scientist Yang Zhang and colleagues report in Current Biology. Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments which makes flowers or fruits red, purple, or blue. These pigments are also induced under stress conditions and infection.

The researchers reported that they expressed two genes encoding transcription factors Delila (Del) and Rosea1 (Ros1) from snapdragons to produce intensely purple tomato fruit. While growing the purple tomatoes, the researchers observed enhanced shelf life compared with red tomatoes. Aside from the delayed ripening characteristic, the purple tomatoes also showed reduced susceptibility to gray mold (Botrytis cinerea), an important postharvest pathogen. The researchers concluded that enhancing the levels of natural antioxidants like anthocyanin in tomato could be a technique to extend shelf life through genetic engineering or conventional breeding.

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