A gene that regulates the amount of sugar, carbohydrates and carotenoids, responsible for the color in tomatoes has been identified by a group of American researchers.
Researchers at Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University, the US Department of Agriculture and the University of California-Davis decoded a gene that governs the level of sugar, carbohydrates and carotenoids in tomatoes.
This gene also influences how tomato fruits ripen and is used by commercial breeders to create tomatoes that develop into perfectly red, store-ready fruit, the journal Science reported.
"Practically, it is a very important trait," said James Giovannoni, plant molecular biologist, senior study co-author, according to a university statement.
"It's a gene that whether you realize it or not, most of your tomatoes have," added Giovannoni. However, this same trait reduces sugars and nutrients in the fruit.
This discovery has practical applications. Commercial producers - who wish to produce uniform red fruit over multi-coloured, flavourful ones - can now do an early test on seedling DNA for the uniform ripening mutation, rather than waiting to observe the mature fruit.
Conversely, those who don't care about appearances can make sure of the opposite - that their plants are mutation free and thus may have better-tasting fruit.