A global team of scientists from Israel, the United States, China and Spain have identified the components of tomato taste and the genes encoding the taste-enhancing chemicals to produce new tomatoes with the traits of the flavors lost for more than 50 years of growing.
Supermarket tomatoes often look much better than they know. This is because modern commercial tomatoes have gradually lost their flavor as producers manipulate their lifespan, firmness and disease resistance.
However, now a group of global scientists has to identify the components of the fruit's flavor. Their study, published Jan. 27 in the journal Science, has allowed tomatoes to be produced with their exact old flavor, without sacrificing traits that make them appealing to consumers and more durable for shipping around the world.p> To begin the research, the Faculty of Agriculture of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem contributed 398 tomato varieties from Professor Dani Zamir's laboratory at the Institute of Plant Science and Genetics in Agriculture.
, including the modern heritage and the wild relatives of cultivated tomatoes, were selected from a collection of about 8,000 tomatoes that we stored in a seed bank in the laboratory, "said PhD student Zamir Itay Zemach.p> In Israel, the doctorate Josef Fisher measured and analyzed the sugar content, weight, size and color. Researchers in Spain controlled the volatile compounds responsible for the tomato aroma. On the US side, they performed a taste test to classify the tomato varieties according to their taste and other traits; And in China, researchers sequenced and analyzed the genomes of the various varieties.
"The research showed a positive correlation between sugar level and taste in the tomato varieties we examined. The testers ranked the varieties with high sugar levels as more delicious, and genetic screening showed that the main gene differing in tomatoes with improved flavor is the one that increases the sugar level, "said Zemach. > To study how to improve taste in modern tomatoes, they studied variants of genes called alleles and were able to identify the locations of the "good" alleles in the tomato genome that allow the production of compounds that contribute to more tasty tomatoes. After mapping genes that control the synthesis of all major chemicals, researchers used genetic analysis to replace "bad" alleles in modern tomato varieties with "good" alleles. "We identified the important factors that have been lost and demonstrated how to return them to modern types of tomatoes," said Professor Harry Klee of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences who led the international study, noting that this technique implies classical genetics, not genetic modification.
"We are only fixing what has been damaged during the last half century to push them back to where they were a century ago. We can make the tomato taste of the supermarket noticeably better. "
Zemach explained that the results of the study have already been implemented in the breeding programs of Zamir's laboratory. "It seems possible to grow more tasty tomatoes with other excellent quality characteristics," he said.