University Of Florida Researchers To Bring Back The Tomato's FlavorBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
Researchers at the University of Florida have been able to identify the chemical compounds responsible for giving tomatoes its flavor. This information can be used to ensure that tomatoes keep their flavor even when they are transported from the farm to the supermarket.
The Los Angeles Times reported that University of Florida researchers were able to determine the genes that code the chemicals that allow tomatoes to produce its flavor. This time, they can help create tomatoes that can survive the journey from field to store without sacrificing its flavor.
Previously, tomato research focused on breeding it for traits such as a longer shelf life, firmness and disease resistance. Denise Tieman, a research assistant professor at the University of Florida and the first author on the paper, said that this is how modern tomatoes lost their flavor.
Harry Klee, who is a professor in the horticulture department at the university and who led the work, revealed that the taste of the tomatoes may have deteriorated slowly. With this, most growers did not notice the change immediately.
In the study, published in Science Magazine, Tieman, Klee and other collaborators studied over 390 types of tomatoes such as modern, heirloom and wild species. They analyzed the species to determine the biochemistry and genetics of great tomato flavor.
The researchers grew the tomatoes in greenhouses and in the field. Afterwards, about 100 of the varietals were rated based on intensity of flavor and sweetness, among other attributes, by 70 to 100 taste testers.
The group also analyzed the chemicals in each tomato to see what combination of sugar acids and aroma compounds got the highest ratings from the taste testers. The researchers were able to identify about 60 chemicals that seem to play a major role in tomato flavor.
According to Business Insider, tomatoes originated from the Andean region of South America. They belong to the Solanaceae family and are close relatives to potatoes and peppers.