Plant Science

Tomatoes provide an excellent target for genetic enhancement to raise levels of flavonoid antioxidants. Flavanoids (including anthocyanins) are a good source of water-soluble antioxidants, while the main antioxidant in ordinary tomatoes is lycopene – a fat-soluble molecule. There is evidence that best protection against disease is achieved when both types of antioxidants are present in the diet.

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Purple Stems
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Purple Skins
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Snapdragon
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Snapdragon gene turns on purple

Domesticated tomatoes already have genes to produce anthocyanins, but they are not "turned on" in most fruits (the purple skinned tomatoes now available were made by traditional breeding).

 

By carefully adding two genes from snapdragons that work like “on switches,” our tomatoes and juice are a rich source of antioxidants, because purple pigments are made in the whole tomato, not just the skins.

 

These products exemplify the principles of biomimicry and nature-based solutions.

 

Prof. Cathie Martin, our founder, was recognized with the prestigious Rank Prize for Nutrition in 2022, for “outstanding research into plant genetics and metabolism leading to enhanced nutritional qualities of fruits and vegetables.”  [https://www.rankprize.org/prize/nutrition/winners/2022/]

Biodiversity & Choice

Tomatoes with anthocyanins can be made by traditional breeding and engineering. We believe that both approaches have advantages and can appeal to different consumers.

Other attempts have been made to increase anthocyanins levels in tomatoes – using both engineering and traditional breeding. However successes have been limited to increasing levels in the peel of the tomato, which represents a very small proportion of the tomato’s weight. Some of these purple-skinned tomatoes are available on the market, but the levels of anthocyanins present are significantly lower than in our purple-fleshed fruit.

 

Research shows that many consumers are open to bioengineering approaches to improve the nutrition and sustainability of their food. Other consumers prefer non-GMO verified and organic options, which are readily available today. 

 

We are committed to providing new produce products to meet consumers’ needs, using safe and appropriate tools.