Scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC)and Institute of Food Research (IFR), Norwich, have today reported the discovery and use of a gene that may help protect plants and humans against disease. The gene (HQT) was identified in tomato and is responsible for producing an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid (CGA).
By increasing the activity of HQT, the scientists raised the levels of CGA in the tomato fruits and this helped protect them against attack from bacterial disease. CGA could also protect humans eating the tomatoes against degenerative, age-related diseases. This report is published online on 25 April in Nature Biotechnology and will be available in the June 2004 hard copy journal.
“Our tomatoes are doubly special” said Dr Cathie Martin (project leader at JIC). “They not only protect themselves against disease, but may benefit humans that eat them by protecting against age-related diseases. For us the excitement is that this adds to our understanding of how plants naturally protect themselves against stress and diseases, but in the long term it may be that this discovery leads to fruits that are better for us”.
Ray Mathias | alfa
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