Soggy, moldy tomatoes could be a thing of the past. Researchers at India's National Institute of Plant Genome Research announced that they have developed transgenic tomato plants that can retain ripeness and a firm texture for over a month. The researchers employed RNA interference (RNAi) to suppress the production of α-mannosidase (α-Man) and β-D-N-acetylhexosaminidase (β-Hex) in ripening fruits, enzymes that perform linchpin roles in N-glycan processing.
Several studies have linked N-glycan processing in the ripening process.
"Analysis of transgenic tomatoes revealed ≈2.5- and ≈2-fold firmer fruits in the α-Man and β-Hex RNAi lines, respectively, and ≈30 days of enhanced shelf life," the researchers wrote in a paper published by PNAS. Normal tomatoes start to wilt just after 15 days. Overexpression of the α-Man and β-Hex genes, on the other hand, resulted in excessive fruit softening.
The researchers noted that postharvest losses of fruits and vegetables in the developing countries account for almost 50 percent of the produce. They also said that the technique could potentially be used in bananas, papayas, mangoes, and other fruits.
The paper published by PNAS is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0909329107