Increasing antioxidant levels in tomatoes through modification of the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway

M.E. Verhoeyen, A. Bovy, G. Collins, S. Muir, S. Vos Robinson, C.H.R. de Vos, S. Colliver

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    197 Citations (Scopus)


    Flavonoids are a diverse group of phenolic secondary metabolites that occur naturally in plants and therefore form an integral component of the human diet. Many of the compounds belonging to this group are potent antioxidants in vitro and epidemiological studies suggest a direct correlation between high flavonoid intake and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other age-related diseases. Enhancing flavonoid biosynthesis in chosen crops may provide new raw materials that have the potential to be used in foods designed for specific benefits to human health. Using genetic modification, it was possible to generate several tomato lines with significantly altered flavonoid content and to probe the role and importance of several key enzymatic steps in the tomato flavonoid biosynthetic pathway. Most notably an up to 78-fold increase in total fruit flavonols was achieved through ectopic expression of a single biosynthetic enzyme, chalcone isomerase. In addition, chalcone synthase and flavonol synthase transgenes were found to act synergistically to up-regulate flavonol biosynthesis significantly in tomato flesh tissues.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2099-2106
    JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • Chalcone isomerase
    • Chalcone synthase
    • Flavonol synthase
    • Flavonols
    • Tomato
    • Transcription factors


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