A new study by researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) for Plant Research and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service — both located on the campus of Cornell University — indicates that epigenetics, a set of chemical changes to a plant’s DNA, plays a crucial part in tomato ripening.
The discovery allows researchers to think outside the box when it comes to developing tomato varieties that can withstand being transported from the farm to the grocery store — and still taste and look good.
The paper was published Jan. 27 on the journal Nature Biotechnology’s website.
“Most previous breeding efforts were focused on the DNA sequence variation in the genome,” says Zhangjin Fei, a co-author on the paper and an associate professor at BTI. “This opens a new era. Now it’s possible to use epigenetic variation rather than just changes in DNA sequence to breed better crops.”
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