Crop Biotech Update

JIC Scientists Develop Tomatoes Rich in Phytochemicals

November 11, 2015

Scientists at the John Innes Centre have discovered a technique to boost the amounts of natural compounds in tomatoes. The compounds are classified as phenylpropanoids like Resveratrol and Genistein. Resveratrol is a compound in wine, which was found to extend life in animal studies. On the other hand, Genistein is present in soybean and has been linked to prevention of steroid-hormone related cancers such as breast cancer.

The researchers focused on the protein AtMYB12 in Arabidopsis which activates several genes involved in metabolic pathways leading to the production of natural compounds in plants. Introducing both AtMYB12 and genes from plants encoding enzymes specific for making Resveratrol in grape and Genistein in legumes, led to tomatoes that could produce as much as 80mg of novel compound per gram of dry weight.

Furthermore, one tomato resulted to have the same amount of Resveratrol with 50 bottles of red wine. Another tomato was also able to produce Genistein equivalent to the amount found in 2.5 kg of tofu.

Read more about the study from JIC.