Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Genetic modification a tool for making vegetables and fruit (even) healthier

It is possible to improve the antioxidant action of tomatoes by a directed change in the production of flavonoids by means of genetic modification.

This has been shown in research by Elio Schijlen at Plant Research Internationa, part of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. Schijlen demonstrated that this approach enables tomatoes to produce larger amounts of specific flavonoids and to let tomatoes produce flavonoids they cannot produce by nature. On the basis of the research Schijlen obtained HIS his PhD-degree on Thursday 8 February at the University of Amsterdam.

The results of this research show that genetic modification is a possible approach to further increase the health promoting value of vegetables and fruit. Flavonoids are frequently occurring and important metabolites in plants. About 6000 different flavonoids are known to be involved in various natural processes. The colour of flowers and ripe fruits, e.g., are often caused by flavonoids. But flavonoids also play an important role in other plant processes such as pollen production, disease resistance, and protection against UV radiation.

Because flavonoids are so frequently occurring in plants, they are a permanent component of our food. Part of the health promoting effects of vegetables and fruit is attributed to flavonoids. It may therefore be attractive to increase the amount of flavonoids and/or change their composition.

This was why Schijlen, working at Plant Research International of Wageningen UR, studied the possibilities of steering the production of flavonoids by a directed change of the biosynthesis route via genetic modification. He followed various approaches to achieve this. One approach was to investigate the possibility of increasing the amount of flavonoids in tomato by means of so-called transcription factors, proteins involved in regulating gene activity.

Schijlen also investigated the possibility to produce new flavonoids in tomatoes which might increase the health promoting properties of tomatoes. For this purpose he used genes form other crops such as grape and alfalfa, genes that are involved in certain steps in the biosynthesis of flavonoids in these crops.

Both approaches were found to be successful. Through genetic modification Schijlen succeeded in developing tomatoes not only with more flavonoids but also with new flavonoids.

Via biochemical analysis Schijlen demonstrated an increased antioxidant action of tomatoes with flavones and more flavonoles, two specific groups of flavonoids. In cooperation with scientists of BASF Plant Science and TNO, the potential health promoting effects of these tomatoes were tested in feeding studies with mice. Blood analyses showed that that the tomatoes with increased flavonoids had a stronger positive effect on blood properties that are characteristic of a reduced risk of cardiovascular disorders.

With his results, Schijlen has shown that genetic modification can further increase the health promoting effects of vegetables and fruit.

Jac Niessen | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>