Scientists Turn Tomatoes into Factories for Useful Natural Compounds

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Scientists at the John Innes Centre have found a way to produce industrial quantities of useful natural compounds efficiently by growing them in tomatoes.

The compounds are phenylpropanoids like Resveratrol, the compound found in wine which has been reported to extend lifespan in animal studies, and genistein, the compound found in soybean which has been suggested to play a role in prevention of steroid-hormone related cancers, particularly breast cancer.

As a result of the research led by Yang Zhang and Eugenio Butelli working in Cathie Martin’s lab at the John Innes Centre, one tomato can produce the same quantity of Resveratrol as exists in 50 bottles of red wine. One tomato has also produced the amount of Genistein found in 2.5kg of tofu.

“Our study provides a general tool for producing valuable phenylpropanoid compounds on an industrial scale in plants, and potentially production of other products derived from aromatic amino acids,” Martin says. Our work will be of interest to different research areas including fundamental research on plants, plant/microbe engineering, medicinal plant natural products, as well as diet and health research.”

More information is available here: https://www.jic.ac.uk/news/2015/10/beneficial-compounds-tomato/

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