Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Genetically Engineered Tomatoes Have Enhanced Folate Content

Date:
March 9, 2007
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Leafy greens and beans aren't the only foods that pack a punch of folate, the vitamin essential for a healthy start to pregnancy.

Researchers have been able to bioengineer tomatoes that pack 25 times the normal amount of folate (molecule shown in lower left).
Credit: Zina Deretsky

Leafy greens and beans aren't the only foods that pack a punch of folate, the vitamin essential for a healthy start to pregnancy.

Researchers now have used genetic engineering--manipulating an organism's genes--to make tomatoes with a full day's worth of the nutrient in a single serving. The scientists published their results in this week's online edition of the journal PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This could potentially be beneficial worldwide," said Andrew Hanson, a plant biochemist at the University of Florida at Gainesville who developed the tomato along with colleague Jesse Gregory. "Now that we've shown it works in tomatoes, we can work on applying it to cereals and crops for less developed countries where folate deficiencies are a very serious problem."

Folate is one of the most vital nutrients for the human body's growth and development, which is why folate-rich diets are typically suggested for women planning a pregnancy or who are pregnant. Without it, cell division would not be possible because the nutrient plays an essential role in both the production of nucleotides--the building blocks of DNA--and many other essential metabolic processes.

Deficiencies of the nutrient have been linked to birth defects, slow growth rates and other developmental problems in children, as well as numerous health issues in adults, such as anemia.

"Folate deficiency is a major nutritional deficiency, especially in the developing world," said Parag Chitnis, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, which funded the research. "This research provides the proof-of-concept for the natural addition of folate to diet through enhancement of the folate content of fruits and vegetables."

The vitamin is commonly found in leafy green vegetables like spinach, but few people eat enough produce to get the suggested amount of folate. So, in 1998, the Food and Drug Administration made it mandatory that many grain products such as rice, flour and cornmeal be enriched with a synthetic form of folate known as folic acid.

Folate deficiencies remain a problem in many underdeveloped countries, however, where adding folic acid is impractical or simply too expensive.

"There are even folate deficiency issues in Europe, where addition of folic acid to foods has not been very widely practiced," Gregory said. "Theoretically, you could bypass this whole problem by ensuring that the folate is already present in the food."

Will doctors be recommending a healthy dose of salsa for would-be pregnant women anytime soon? Probably not, the researchers say.

"It can take years to get a genetically-engineered food plant approved by the FDA," Hanson said. "But before that is even a question, there are many more studies to be done--including a better look at how the overall product is affected by this alteration."

And there is another hurdle the researchers must clear. Boosting the production of folate in tomatoes involved increasing the level of another chemical in the plant, pteridine. Little is known about this chemical, which is found in virtually all fruits and vegetables.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "New Genetically Engineered Tomatoes Have Enhanced Folate Content." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075653.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2007, March 9). New Genetically Engineered Tomatoes Have Enhanced Folate Content. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075653.htm
National Science Foundation. "New Genetically Engineered Tomatoes Have Enhanced Folate Content." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075653.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins