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Researchers have found a way to slow down tomato ripening and improve its nutritional quality. They've developed a way of slowing down tomato ripening by introducing a yeast gene that controls this function in the fruit. Scientists use genetic engineering to modify genes to turn them on or off at any particular time. The transgenic tomatoes have a lycopene content 2.5 times higher than non-transgenic tomatoes. Lycopene may aid in preventing early blindness in children, preventing cancer and enhancing cardiovascular health. Before the new tomato can be made available as a food, it will have to undergo a few years of testing for health and environmental safety. Contact: Autar Mattoo, USDA/ARS Vegetable Laboratory, Room 238, Building 010A, BARC West, 10300 Baltimore Blvd., Beltsville, MD 20705. Phone 301-504-7380. Fax 301-504- 5555. Email: amattoo@asrr.arsusda.gov.

USDA/ARS scientists are teaming up with colleagues at Abraxis Inc. (Hatboro, PA) to help rid fish of offensive off-flavors. Researchers have signed a two-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the small company. The thrust of the agreement will be to develop monoclonal antibodies, proteins that lock onto a very specific molecule, that could ultimately be used in a test kit to detect geosmin in fish ponds and drinking water. Geosmin is one of several compounds produced by algal organisms that grow in groundwater and soil. It is a major cause of off-flavor. It has an aroma that people typically associate with soil. Another important algal compound that causes off-flavor, methylisoborneol, will not be studied under this agreement. Geosmin is produced by blue-green algae blooms in ponds and other water bodies, including sometimes in catfish ponds. Catfish absorb these compounds, resulting in bad or dirty-tasting fish. Currently, there are no effective, environmentally friendly ways to clean up algal blooms in ponds. A geosmin monoclonal antibody could pave the way for more precise water quality tests and other corrective treatments. Contact: Richard Shelby, USDA/ARS Aquatic Animal Health Research Laboratory, PO Box 952, Auburn, AL 36831. Phone: 334-887-4526. Fax: 334-887-2983. Email: shelbri@vetmed.auburn.edu.
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Oct 1, 2000
Words:342
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