Studies to achieve richer tomatoes

Dra. Telma Scarpeci

Improving tomato plant , its fruit is tastier with better color and flavor and also tolerant to environmental stress conditions is the main objective of the lab, ” Metabolism and signaling in plants ‘ Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario , led by Dr. Estela Valle . Telma Scarpeci , laboratory research , tells of the research in which you are working.

Organic vs commercial tomatoes

Tomatoes are in the vegetable markets often do not have good color , flavor and aroma, because they were selected in order to last long on the shelves without spoiling the detriment of the characteristics of this fruit sensory and nutritional characteristics .

“The tomato originated in South America, at first it was a wild plant with small fruit . Aboriginal peoples , including the Incas, were responsible for taming process that involved improving its taste and size as the empire expanded tomato seeds people were cultivating it and making a selection and distributed in different parts of the territory , according to your preference as to the aroma, taste, size and color , ” explained the researcher.

“In the laboratory we are working with tomato plants from the Andean valleys of Argentina , inhabited by families that preserve the seeds, which are passed from generation to generation and have the advantage of never having been crossed with commercial varieties that come Europe . We chose to work with this type of tomatoes not only for their skills ( rich , good color, etc) but also because they are adapted to live in high rise with extreme solar radiation , UV and drought ” substantiated Scarpeci plants.

The researcher explained about the progress in this line “We We exposed plants to different types of stress to know what had greater tolerance with the long term goal of using them for breeding.”

Tolerance and stress

Another line of research which is working Telma Scarpeci involves oxidative stress. “Oxygen is essential for life on earth and plants produce it permanently , however it can also prove to be harmful for them ,” said the researcher , adding about “When the plant is in a situation of environmental stress, that may occur in the presence of extreme temperatures , drought, among other factors, oxygen from reactive oxygen species begin to occur , also called free radicals , which are most damaging molecules such as proteins , lipids and DNA. ”

The researcher explained that the plant tries to solve or remedy such damage and in some cases the same proteins that are injured are responsible to destroy those free radicals, then an imbalance called “oxidative stress” , which occurs in the plant produces large deterioration , sometimes fails to die but stops growing and as a result may lose large amounts of crops.

“If somehow you could increase the tolerance of a plant to environmental stresses , such as correlative increase performance and one of the ways to achieve this is by making transgenic plants which would modify the expression levels of a gene of the plant itself , or it can be a gene from another organism . We are working with a type of proteins called ” transcription factors ” that are responsible for modulating the expression of genes involved in stress response , ” said the doctor Scarpeci .

“Part of our recent work was to increase the levels of a particular transcription factor called AtWRKY30 in Arabidopsis thaliana. When analyzing these plants that we saw had a higher tolerance to oxidative stress and high salt concentrations during germination , but not in adult plant . This is important to think about the possibility of using land currently not suitable for crops, have high levels of salinity. From the biotechnological point of view , these plants expressing this transcription factor is important, for in the future to do the same in a plant of commercial interest ” concluded the researcher.