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High Flavonols Tomato

Tomato fruit containing high levels of flavonols

This invention describes tomato plants that express flavonols in the flesh and peel of the tomato fruit. Flavonoids, especially flavonols such as quercetin and kaempferol, are believed to impart a number of health benefits if ingested in sufficient quantities. Studies have shown that flavonoids possess antioxidant and anticancer activities (Rice-Evans et al., Free Radical Research, 22: 375-383, 1995). Additional health benefits include anti-platelet aggregation (Rice-Evans et al., Trends in Plant Science, 2: 152-159, 1997), decreased blood viscosity, reduction in the severity of inflammation and allergies (Cook et al., Nutritional Biochemistry 7: 66-76, 1996), as well as other health beneficial effects (e. g. antiviral activity, anti- tuberculosis activity). Therefore, there is significant interest in developing plants accumulating high levels of flavonoids, especially flavonols.

Additionally, none of the flavonol biosynthesis genes are expressed in the flesh of the tomato fruit. Both results clearly explain the observed lack of flavonol accumulation in domesticated tomato fruits.

Thus, it has been assumed that obtaining high flavonol tomatoes cannot be accomplished by using traditional breeding techniques, as CHI expression would remain blocked and the fruit flesh would continue to accumulate insignificant levels of flavonols.

Modern breeding technologies, or genetic modification, can be used to up-regulate expression of the CHI gene in the flesh and fruit peel of tomato. This invention provides tomato plants that accumulate flavonols in the peel of the tomato fruit.


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