Prof. Joseph Hirschberg
|Keywords||FoodTech, Breeding, nutrition|
|Current development stage||General list: TRL4 Technology validated in lab|
|Collaboration Opportunity||Licensing of Technology|
The researchers developed a tomato line, HP4 (High-Pigment 4), with 20% higher carotenoid (lycopene) in the fruit by using genome editing technology.
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is the second largest vegetable crop globally, with a yearly worldwide production of over 170 million tons (FAO, https://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QCL). Tomato fruits synthesize carotenoids that accumulate in chromoplasts adapted to store high concentrations of these lipophilic compounds. The concentration of lycopene in fresh tomato fruit from most commercial varieties varies between 50-120 μg.g-1 fresh weight (FW).
Carotenoids are natural pigments essential in the human diet as a source of vitamins and antioxidants. Lycopene exhibits the highest antioxidant activity and singlet oxygen quenching ability when compared to all other dietary carotenoids. Over 80% of dietary lycopene intake in the U.S. is derived from tomatoes or processed tomato products such as ketchup, soups and tomato sauces. Therefore, the concentration of lycopene in the raw material of fresh fruits harvested in the field is a major agronomical trait in processed tomato varieties.
Using CRISPR technology, the reserachers developed novel mutations in the tomato line M82 that increase carotenoid content in fruits. Fruits of this modified Line HP4 contain, on average, 20% more lycopene than their parental line. The mutations were generated by gene-editing technology and were certified by the Israel Ministry of Agriculture, National Committee for Transgenic Plants (NCTP) as “non-transgenic.”
The advantages of the HP4 innovation:
- Higher lycopene content in the fruit is a desirable trait in tomato breeding.
- The non-transgenic HP4 trait behaves genetically as a single locus, enabling a straightforward introgression through crossings to different varieties.
- The HP4 trait enhances other advantageous carotenoids such as phytoene/phytofluene, prolycopene, β-carotene, and zeaxanthin.
Figure 1: Carotenoid composition in wild-type fruits (M82) and mutant HP4.
The researchers are looking for commercial partners that would be interested to employ CRISPR to their own lines of tomatoes to increase the carotenoid content in their own commercial varieties.
Patents and Publications
Provisional Patent Files – Yissum ref #7104
Scientific article submitted