Protein May Speed Screening of Tomatoes, Taters, Eggplants By
A new protein built by scientists promises to speed and simplify the
plant breeders task of screening new tomatoes, potatoes and
eggplants for food safety.
Plant breeders scrutinize new plant varieties to ensure they don't
exceed safe levels of bitter-tasting natural compounds called
glycoalkaloids. The chore will be simplified with a new, easy-to-use
test kit now in the planning stage.
The test kit will feature the new protein, named Sol-129. The
protein, a lab-built molecule known as a monoclonal antibody, was
designed by scientists with the Agricultural
Researchers want the test to be portable, fast and accurate.
Tomorrow's tomato breeders, for example, might use it to screen
candidate plants that offer better flavor, brighter color or greater
Using monoclonal antibodies to detect glycoalkaloids isn't a new
idea. But the Sol-129 monoclonal antibody apparently is the first to
detect the main glycoalkaloids of all three veggies, according to ARS
biologist Larry H. Stanker at College Station, Texas.
The scientists named the monoclonal antibody Sol-129 because
tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants are members of the botanical family
Solanaceae. ARS has patented Sol-129.
Scientific contact: Larry H. Stanker, ARS
Food and Feed Safety
Research Unit, College Station, Texas, phone (409) 260-9484, fax