Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Pink Gene

14.01.2010
What makes a particular variety of tomato pink? The gene responsible, discovered recently at the Weizmann Institute, may help researchers develop new exotic tomatoes.

Far Eastern diners are partial to a variety of sweet, pink-skinned tomato. Dr. Asaph Aharoni of the Weizmann Institute's Plant Sciences Department has now revealed the gene that's responsible for producing these pink tomatoes. Aharoni's research focuses on plants' thin, protective outer layers, called cuticles, which are mainly composed of fatty, wax-like substances.

In the familiar red tomato, this layer also contains large amounts of antioxidants called flavonoids that are the tomatoes' first line of defense. Some of these flavonoids also give the tomato cuticles a bright yellow cast - the color component that is missing in the translucent pink skins of the mutants.

Using a lab system that's unique in Israel, and one of only a few in the world, Aharoni and his team are able to rapidly and efficiently identify hundreds of active plant substances called metabolites. A multidisciplinary approach developed over the past decade, known as metabolomics, enables them to create a comprehensive profile of all these substances in mutant plants and compare it with that of normal ones.

The research, carried out in Aharoni's lab by Dr. Avital Adato, Dr. Ilana Rogachev and research student Tali Mendel, showed that the differences between pink and red tomatoes go much deeper than skin color: The scientists identified about 400 genes whose activity levels are quite a bit higher or lower in the mutant tomatoes. The largest changes, appearing in both the plant cuticle and the fruit covering, were in the production of substances in the flavonoid family. The pink tomato also has less lycopene, a red pigment known to be a strong antioxidant that's been shown to be associated with reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. 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.

The researchers found that all of these changes can be traced to a mutation on a single gene known as SIMYB12. This gene acts as a 'master switch' that regulates the activities of a whole network of other genes, controlling the amounts of yellow pigments as well as a host of other substances in the tomato. Aharoni: 'Since identifying the gene, we found we could use it as a marker to predict the future color of the fruit in the very early stages of development, even before the plant has flowered. This ability could accelerate efforts to develop new, exotic tomato varieties, a process that can generally take over 10 years.'

Dr. Asaph Aharoni's research is supported by the De Benedetti Foundation-Cherasco 1547; and the Willner Family Foundation. Dr. Aharoni is the incumbent of the Adolpho and Evelyn Blum Career Development Chair of Cancer Research.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute is home to 2,600 scientists, students, technicians and supporting staff. Institute research efforts include the search for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.

Weizmann Institute news releases are posted on the World Wide Web at http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il, and are also available at http://www.eurekalert.org.

Yivsam Azgad | idw
Further information:
http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il
http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1000777

Further reports about: SIMYB12 Science TV Single gene Weizmann antioxidants metabolites

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University

nachricht Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>