Scientists across the globe have embarked on a series of experiments to make tomatoes tastier, healthier and cheaper.
An international effort by 300 scientists from 14 different countries has unravelled the secrets of the tomato after a ten year project to discover its genome sequence. And the scientists - known as the Tomato Genome Consortium - say the results of the research it released this week mean tastier tomatoes are on the way.
The TGC also said that identifying the genome will enable breeders to produce varieties with more nutrients, making them healthier to eat. Breeders will also be able to identify strains of tomato which are more resistant to droughts and diseases which commonly blight tomato crops. That could lower farming costs and cut prices for consumers.
“Tomatoes are one of the most important fruit crops in the world,” said co-leader of the UK research team and biotechnology professor Graham Seymour. “Understanding this genome will help us understand what makes tomatoes and other fruits ripen and give them their health promoting properties.”
Meanwhile, a team of scientists in Florida claim to have produced a ‘recipe map’ for the “ideal tomato” after embarking on a series of laboratory experiments to produce a better-tasting tomato.
Professor Harry Klee from the University of Florida said his team had made the breakthrough after experimenting with tomato heirlooms, wild relatives of the cultivated tomato, and using transgenic technology to identify the key ingredients that give tomatoes flavour and boost their sweetness.
Professor Klee also attacked the flavour of supermarket tomatoes saying they are a “terrible” product after years of tomato breeders focusing on yield at the expense of flavour.