Biotech Updates

Scientists Develop Tomatoes with Increased Antioxidant Levels

April 24, 2009

The compound that makes red wine a healthful drink may soon be found in pizzas. Scientists at Italy's Institute of Sciences and Food Production developed genetically modified tomatoes expressing high levels of resveratrol. Resveratrol is produced by some plants, most notably grapes, to ward off pathogens. Experimental studies have shown that the compound exhibits anti-inflammatory, antiviral and cardio- and neuro-protective potentials. It has also been shown to prevent tumor growth in animal cancer models.

The transgenic tomatoes express a stilbene synthase-expressing gene from grapes under the control of a fruit-specific promoter. They were found to produce high levels of resveratrol and its derivative, piceid, particularly in skin of mature fruits. The phenotype of transformed plants was similar to wild type plants although the fruits were seedless.

The scientists also evaluated the anti-oxidant capability of the resveratrol from transformed fruits. According to them the extracts of transgenic tomato fruits display an anti-inflammatory effect, based on the suppression of prostaglandin production, greater than that of chemically synthesized or wild-type sourced resveratrol.

The paper published by Plant Biotechnology Journal is available at http://10.1111/j.1467-7652.2009.00409.x