Tomatoes lose their taste — why?
Scientists have described the genome of modern tomatoes, comparing them with wild counterparts.
May 20, 2019 at 12:11
Tomatoes, even bought at the farmers ‘ market, often disappointing: their taste is not as bright as expected. And it’s not an illusion: American scientists have explained what happened with the popular vegetable culture over the past decade.
The study of the genome of the tomato began in 2012. The basis was taken of the fruit of the cultivar Heinz 1706. The researchers then determined pangenom (the set of all genes of the considered organism groups) 725 varieties of cultivated and wild tomatoes. A comparison of the data showed that almost 5000 genes from pangenom domestic tomatoes are not available.
The most important was the loss of the chain gene TomLoxC: catalyzing the biosynthesis of several lipid (fat) volatiles-compounds, they are responsible for the aroma and taste. TomLoxC was found in 90% of the wild varieties of tomatoes, but cultural at best 2%. That is why wild tomatoes seem much more tasty than the ones we buy in stores. In addition, the researchers found that cultivated tomatoes generally have extremely low genetic diversity. The reason was the selection: all the “extra” was supplanted by the aggressive genes that provide plant resistance to diseases, rapid maturation, abundant fruiting, and long shelf life.
Demand for tomatoes is high worldwide; only in United States each person annually consumes an average of at least 9 kg of fresh tomatoes, and about 33 kg in processed form. Biologists propose to begin to breed new varieties of tomatoes – enough to return them to the taste and flavor genes, and people will once again enjoy the taste of the popular product.
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