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Fixing the broken tomato



February 21, 2013


At Ars-Technica, genetic scientist John Timmer examines how modern breeding broke the tomato and made it tasteless, unpleasantly textured and decidedly unappealing. Fortunately, science is now finding a way to turn that around.

TomatoTableBecause plant breeding responded to the needs of farmers, transporters and large grocery chain stores, tomato breeding produced a high-yield, large, firm, red ‘fruit’…….. that had no taste.

Tomato seedlingsAfter putting more than 200 varieties through a testing panel and measuring their tasting responses, Harry Klee of the University of Florida has formulated what you might call a statistical recipe for a good tomato. Timmer explains how 68 volatile chemicals in tomatoes produce our sensations of taste, many of them carotenoids, of which science has a pretty good genetic understanding. (Although one of the things Klee also discovered was that some heirloom strains are “really not very good”.)

By finding ways to introduce those carotenoid-linked genes into tomato breeding, there’s hope we might one day have in our fruit stores a tomato that tastes like a……….tomato.

Read the full story at Ars-Technica.com

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