Tomato as spicy as a chili pepper Genetic engineering will add spiciness to it

Tomato as spicy as a chili pepper? Genetic engineering will add to its sharpness

Thanks to developments in gene-editing technology, spicy tomatoes may soon be on our tables. However, it wasn’t culinary that pushed Brazilian researchers to try to create chili pepper-sharp tomatoes. At issue is capsaicin, a compound that is used beyond cooking also in medicine.

Spicy foods are popular in many parts of the world. Capsaicin and its derivatives are responsible for their pungent taste. It is obtained from growing small peppers. However, thanks to genetic engineering, a new solution will be possible. Scientists have just proposed creating genetically modified tomatoesow whichore would produce capsaicin.

Capsaicin and derivatives of the compound are used not only in cooking, but also in medicine. And since crops of small peppers have to cover huge areas and have relatively low yields in the process, the production of much larger tomatoesow would be much more effective, as a way ofob acquisition of capsaicin. Plus, tomatoes are easier to grow and well-studied.

Tomato modificationoin proposed by researchers from the University of Viçwasp in Brazil. Although chili peppers and tomatoes have separated from wspolar ancestor millions of years ago, the latter still possess the genetic pathway needed to produce capsaicinoidsoin – compoundow, whichore responsible for the pungent taste.

Research on the subject appeared in the journal „Trends in Plant Science”.

– We know that the relevant genes are in tomatoes, but they are inactive – said wspołautor of the study Agustin Zsӧgӧn. The scientists propose to use gene manipulation methods available to science, such as the extremely popular gene editing methodoin CRISPR-Cas9 to activate capsaicin-producing genes in tomatoes. – In this wayob you can produce capsaicinoids in a more cost-effective wayob – Zsӧgӧn added.

– Capsaicinoids are highly valuable compounds. Are used in the defense industry to produce gasoin peppercorns. There are roAlso used in the production of middleoin anesthetizing. There are also studies showing that they promote weight loss – explained Zsӧgӧn.

In a study published on „PLOS ONE” in 2017 also indicated that capsaicin acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and as an antioxidant. It even shows anti-cancer properties. According to these studies, eating spicy foods reduces the risk of death from diseaseob heart and strokeoin by 13 percent. For more on this topic, see Consumption of spicy foodsow extends life.

Zsӧgӧn and its teamsoł are already working zarowno over chili peppers as well as tomatoes. Scientists believe it will soon be possible to eat a spicy tomato. Zsögön admitted that by the end of the year they should succeed. He stressed, however, that activation of the geneow responsible for capsaicin production will not be easy.

Not only could spicy tomatoes have new culinary implications, but more importantly, they could act as biofabricators for the capsaicinoidow.

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