Chinese researchers have developed a genetically modified purple tomato rich in anthocyanins, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Anthocyanins are a group of antioxidant-boosting pigments that also provide the purple, red or blue colours of many fruits and vegetables. Some studies suggest dietary consumption of anthocyanins may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Although most tomato cultivars do not produce anthocyanins in fruit, the purple tomato variety Indigo Rose exhibits light-dependent anthocyanin accumulation in the skin.
Researchers from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology under the CAS studied the mechanisms of anthocyanin biosynthesis in Indigo Rose, identified the genes related to the process and generated purple-fleshed tomatoes which accumulate anthocyanins in both the peel and flesh.
The research provided important target genes for the production of anthocyanin-rich tomatoes. Through unveiling the anthocyanin synthesis mechanism, it also provided new ideas and technical approaches for enhancement of anthocyanin content in crops, according to Li Chuanyou, the leading researcher.
The research was published in the journal Molecular Plant.