Overexpression of petunia chalcone isomerase in tomato results in fruit containing increased levels of flavonols

S.R. Muir, G.J. Collins, S. Robinson, S.G. Hughes, A.G. Bovy, C.H.R. de Vos, A.J. van Tunen, M.E. Verhoeven

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    400 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Tomatoes are an excellent source of the carotenoid lycopene, a compound that is thought to be protective against prostate cancer. They also contain small amounts of flavonoids in their peel (|[sim]|5–10 mg/kg fresh weight), mainly naringenin chalcone and the flavonol rutin, a quercetin glycoside. Flavonols are very potent antioxidants, and an increasing body of epidemiological data suggests that high flavonoid intake is correlated with a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease. We have upregulated flavonol biosynthesis in the tomato in order to generate fruit with increased antioxidant capacity and a wider range of potential health benefit properties. This involved transformation of tomato with the Petunia chi-a gene encoding chalcone isomerase. Resulting transgenic tomato lines produced an increase of up to 78 fold in fruit peel flavonols, mainly due to an accumulation of rutin. No gross phenotypical differences were observed between high-flavonol transgenic and control lines. The phenotype segregated with the transgene and demonstrated a stable inheritance pattern over four subsequent generations tested thus far. Whole-fruit flavonol levels in the best of these lines are similar to those found in onions, a crop with naturally high levels of flavonol compounds. Processing of high-flavonol tomatoes demonstrated that 65% of flavonols present in the fresh fruit were retained in the processed paste, supporting their potential as raw materials for tomato-based functional food products.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)470-474
    JournalNature Biotechnology
    Volume19
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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