Biotech Updates

Purple Tomatoes, Coming to a Plate Near You...

October 24, 2008

Tomatoes with skin as dark as blackberries? They don't just look good, they might actually be good for your health. Researchers from the John Innes Center in the U.K. have developed transgenic tomatoes accumulating high levels of anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins are red-purple pigments found naturally at high levels in grapes, blood orange, red cabbage and eggplant peel. The pigments are much studied for their health benefits, including their roles as antioxidants. Recent studies show that anthocyanins can offer protection against cardiovascular ailments, degenerative diseases and certain types of cancer.

The researchers introduced two genes responsible for the purple pigment of snapdragon flowers. The transgenic tomatoes accumulated anthocyanins at higher levels than anything previously reported for metabolic engineering in both the peel and flesh of the fruit. “This is one of the first examples of metabolic engineering that offers the potential to promote health through diet by reducing the impact of chronic disease," says Cathie Martin, scientist at the John Innes Center. “The next step will be to take the preclinical data forward to human studies with volunteers to see if we can promote health through dietary preventive medicine strategies.”

Read the article at For more information, visit