A group of researchers from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed a genetically-modified purple tomato that is rich in anthocyanins, a group of pigments that increase antioxidant levels and give purple, red or blue colors to many fruits and vegetables. Some studies suggest that their consumption may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Although most tomato varieties do not produce anthocyanins in the fruit, the Indigo Rose purple tomato variety has an accumulation of pigment on its skin which is light dependent. To achieve this, the researchers identified the genes related to the process of accumulation of anthocyanins in tomatoes, both in the skin and in the pulp. With the revelation of the anthocyanin synthesis mechanism, new ideas and technical approaches for crop improvement were also contributed, according to Li Chuanyou, research leader.
The study has been published in the journal Molecular Plant.