31. May 2022
Tomatoes that have been genetically modified to contain vitamin D sunshine vitamin could be a simple and sustainable innovation to tackle a global health problem.
Image source: Shutterstock.com
Researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to turn off a particular molecule in the plant’s genome, thereby increasing provitamin D3 accumulation in both the fruit and leaves of tomato plants. It was then converted into vitamin D3 after exposure to UVB light.
When growing tomatoes, leaves are usually waste material, but those from the processed plants could be used to make vegan-friendly vitamin D3 substitutes or to fortify foods, said Professor Cathie Martin, corresponding author of the study, which appears in Nature Plants .
Vitamin D is made in the body after skin is exposed to UVB light, but the main source is food. This new biologically-enhanced yield could help millions of people who are vitamin D deficient, a growing problem linked to a higher risk of cancer, dementia, and many causes that lead to mortality. Studies have also shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a higher susceptibility to infection with COVID-19.
What: John Innes Center © 2022
Release date: 05/31/2022