Thursday, May 31, 2012

TTTT: Tools To Tweek Tomatoes . . .

THE TOMATO GENOME has been sequenced. According to ScienceDaily: "Tomato Genome Gets Fully Sequenced -- Paves Way to Healthier Fruits, Veggies". The genomes from the "Heinz 1706" and a wild precursor were sequenced.

Of course, from this, improving yield, nutrition, disease resistance, taste and color may be more easily and effectively done. But this implies Genetic Modification, and thanks to Monsanto and other agribiz giants, people are wary, and with good reason.

But GM isn't going away, no matter what. That's the bad news; the good news is that with time, the techniques of genetic analysis and modification become more widespread as costs fall, so benefits get beyond the control of the greedy. As a result, the tomato was sequenced by members of the Tomato Genomics Consortium, an international collaboration between Argentina, Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, United States and others.

So it's not just Monsanto or Archer Daniels Midland anymore.

James Giovannoni, a scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, located on the campus of Cornell University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said this:
"Tomato genetics underlies the potential for improved taste every home gardener knows and every supermarket shopper desires and the genome sequence will help solve this and many other issues in tomato production and quality."
Sol Genomics Network

Unlike agribiz genetics which are proprietary, this is meant to be shared. To provide access to the gene sequences of the tomato and related species, Boyce Thompson Institute scientist Lukas Mueller and his team have created an interactive website, sol genomics network.

Check it out and GMOD, or the Generic Model Organism Database project: these show the future of genetic research. Just add time . . . why should you care? Well, for starters, with climate change, growing stuff with less water might be a good idea? 

1 comment:

Sixth Estate said...

Did you get clearance to discuss this first? I'm pretty sure that in Canada, anything as politically sensitive as the tomato genome should probably be cleared with the PMO first so that you can get your talking points in order. :-)

In all seriousness, an interesting study. Although if the end goal is to tweak genetic codes which will prosper in a catastrophically warming environment, we will soon need to begin thinking about more efficient sources of nutrition than tomatoes.