Gene breakthrough unlocks pink tomatoes
Researchers from the Plant Sciences Department at the Weizmann Institute report that a mutation on gene called SIMYB12 is responsible for producing these pink tomatoes.
“Since identifying the gene, we found we could use it as a marker to predict the future colour of the fruit in the very early stages of development, even before the plant has flowered,” said researcher Dr Asaph Aharoni. “This ability could accelerate efforts to develop new, exotic tomato varieties, a process that can generally take over 10 years.”
The research focussed on the fruit’s thin, protective outer layers, which contain fatty, wax-like substances and large amounts of flavonoids. Some of these flavonoids also give the tomato cuticles a bright yellow cast – the colour component that is missing in the translucent pink skins of the mutants, said the researchers.
The pink tomatoes have reduced lycopene contents, said the researchers. In addition, alterations in the fatty composition of the pink tomato's outer layer caused its cuticle to be both thinner and less flexible that a regular tomato skin, they added.