Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Researchers Seek Key to Increased Lycopene in Tomato / October 13, 1999 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Agricultural Research Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
ARS News and Information Search News and Info Science for Kids Image Gallery Agricultural Research Magazine Publications and Newsletters News Archive News and Info home ARS News and Information
Latest news | Subscribe
 

Researchers Seek Key to Increased Lycopene in Tomato

By Kathryn Barry Stelljes
October 13, 1999

Tomatoes with much higher levels of lycopene may be available in the future if research pans out at the Agricultural Research Service.

Lycopene, which gives tomatoes their bright red color, may help reduce the risk of some cancers, according to epidemiological research at the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health.

While working with tomato tissue cultures, ARS chemist Betty Ishida uncovered clues about ripening and lycopene formation. As expected, the culture developed into a tomato fruit. Surprisingly, the fruit's green outer leaves, known as the calyx, also ripened into fruit-like tissue.

In this particular tomato variety, called VFNT Cherry, Ishida found that low growing temperatures triggered ripening in non-fruit tissue. Because the fruit was very dark red, she tested the lycopene content and found it to be 10 times the amount in most commercial tomatoes.

Ishida and colleagues are looking for the genes activated to increase lycopene production. Then they hope to activate the genes in commercial varieties.

A story about this research appears in the October issue of ARS' Agricultural Research magazine and on the web at:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct99/clues1099.htm

ARS is the lead scientific agency for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Betty Ishida, Process Chemistry and Engineering Research Unit, ARS Western Regional Research Center, Albany, Calif., phone (510) 559-5726, fax (510) 559-8777, bkishida@pw.usda.gov.

Top | News Staff | Photo Staff

E-mail the web team Privacy and other policies Site map About ARS Information Staff Bottom menu

Home | News | Pubs | Magazine | Photos | Sci4Kids | Search
About ARS Info | Site map | Policies | E-mail us

Last Modified: 1/3/2002
Footer Content Back to Top of Page