Scientists produce genetically modified tomatoes to increase vitamin D levels Science

Scientists have created genetically modified tomatoes as much as two tablespoons of vitamin D3, a precursor to vitamin D. Outdoor field trials of tomatoes in the UK are expected to begin next month, and if successful, they could provide an important new source of vitamin D.

Approximately 19% of Britons have a low vitamin D level, which is needed to keep their bones, teeth and muscles healthy. The main source of this nutrient comes from exposure of the skin to sunlight, which turns the vitamin D3 into an active vitamin D that our body can use.

However, there is enough sunlight in the UK to achieve this between April and September, which means we need to rely on dietary sources – such as fatty fish, red meat, egg yolk or mushrooms – or supplements. This is especially difficult for vegans, as many supplements contain sheep wool lanolin.

“Geen-edition tomatoes may be in better health for many than the recommended dietary guidelines for accumulating D3 provitamin, especially because tomatoes are a very affordable and easy-to-eat food,” said Guy Poppy, a professor of ecology at the University of Southampton.

Tomato plants were created by making minor changes to an existing tomato gene using an editing technique called Crispr-Cas9. “It’s like a pair of molecular tweezers that you can use to extract a very small part of a gene in detail to improve a desirable plant trait much faster than the traditional reproductive process, and without introducing foreign DNA from other species.” said Jie Li at the John Innes Center in Norwich, who led the investigation.

In this case, their focus was on an enzyme found in tomato plants, which is usually converted to provitamin D.3 into cholesterol. By changing this enzyme, the researchers were able to block this pathway, which is provitamin D.3 it accumulates in the fruits and leaves of tomatoes.

They calculated the amount of provitamin D.3 in tomato fruit – if it becomes vitamin D.3 – It would be the equivalent of two medium-sized eggs or 28 grams of tuna.

This is to convert vitamin D to active3, the fruit should be exposed to UVB light, or it can be grown outdoors, something that researchers plan to test in upcoming field trials. the study was published in Natural Plants.

“It’s a nice example of the use of geek editing technologies to make a very specific change in a crop,” said Defra’s chief scientific adviser, Professor Gideon Henderson.

These “precision-edited” crops are the subject of a bill in Queen’s Speech that will allow the treatment of genetically modified plants with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and are currently governed by strict European regulations. He hopes the UK will move away.

“It’s an example of the type of product that could go beyond conventional GMO legislation, but it would do so very slowly in today’s regulatory environment and it could take decades to navigate the system,” Henderson said.

Unlike GMOs, tomato plants have no genes from other organisms, and could theoretically have been created through selective growth, albeit at a much slower rate.

Such crops would be approved under the Genetic Technology (Precision Growth) Bill, and the Secretary of the Environment anticipates that it will be legally approved this year so that the first edited gene foods will be available by 2023.

Professor Cathie Martin of the John Innes Center, who oversaw the research, said she had demonstrated the potential for gene editing to improve the nutritional properties of foods and that the technique could lead to similar changes in any elite tomato variety. “This means that companies can incorporate this feature into patent-protected crops, or into Gardener’s Delight, where it doesn’t exist. [patent] protection, ”he said.

“[The technique] it can probably work well with other solanaceous foods, such as peppers, chillies, potatoes and eggplants. “

Another advantage for growers is that they can sell leaves or unripe fruit to manufacturers to process vitamin D pills, Martin said.

Leave a Comment