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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Restoring the sweet tomato flavor.

Modern tomatoes lack sufficient sugars and volatile chemicals critical to better flavor. Those traits have been lost during the past 50 years because breeders have not had the tools to routinely screen for flavor.The supermarket tomatoes are bigger but they lack the vine flavor that was common some years back from farm fresh products,as the quest to get bigger,juicer faster maturing fruit overshadowed the taste peculiar to tomatoes. The breeding and selection of different strains to achieve bigger fruit has been fingered as the root of the dwindling taste,thus genetic intervention is needed to reverse what was produced years ago. In a study published in the journal Science, Harry Klee, a professor of horticultural sciences with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, identifies the chemical combinations for better tomato flavor. The first step was to find out which of the hundreds of chemicals in a tomato contribute the most to taste,researchers studied "alleles," the versions of DNA in a tomato gene that give it its specific traits. Scientists then identified the locations of the good alleles in the tomato genome,using genome-wide assessment study. The scientists mapped genes that control synthesis of all the important chemicals,and used genetic analysis to replace bad alleles in modern tomato varieties with the good alleles.