From a study conducted by the CNR Institute of Science of Food Production, in collaboration with the John Innes Center in Norwich and published in the journal Nature Plants, a new tomato line is designed to counteract the deficiency of vitamin D
According to some estimates, about 40% of the European population, 26% of the American and 20% of the Eastern one would be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. From a research by the Institute of Science of Food Production of the National Research Council of Lecce (Cnr-Ispa), in collaboration with Cathie Martin of the John Innes Center (Norwich, UK) a new food solution is proposed precisely with the aim of reducing this risk: a new tomato line capable of accumulating in all stages of maturation pro-vitamin D3, or the assumable precursor of Vitamin D. The study was published in the journal Nature Plants.
“The daily intake of this very important vitamin can come mainly from animal sources such as milk, eggs, cod liver oil and salmon. Foods of plant origin do not contain any, except for some mushrooms capable of producing pro-vitamin D2, which is however less active than pro-vitamin D3. The conversion from pro-vitamin D2 or D3 to vitamin D occurs by exposing the skin to UV radiation, which, however, in a prolonged and inadequate manner, can involve serious risks such as skin cancers. Furthermore, elderly people often have low levels of absorption and translocation of pro-vitamin D3 / D2 at the epidermal level ”, explains Angelo Santino of Cnr-Ispa.
The new bio-fortified tomato therefore represents an important potential alternative. “From the calculations made, the consumption of a couple of fresh tomatoes a day from this new tomato line could largely satisfy the recommended daily dose of vitamin D”, continues Aurelia Scarano of Cnr-Ispa. “This new tomato line has been achieved thanks to the emerging genome editing technologies that are gaining momentum in many fields of science, from biomedical to agri-food. Thanks to these new technologies, and more precisely to the use of the CRISPR / Cas9 system, it was possible to introduce in an extremely specific way a small modification in a tomato gene, the gene that codes for the enzyme 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase 2, involved in the conversion of provitamin D3 to cholesterol without affecting other regions of the genome in any way. After two successive generations, plants have been obtained that show only a small stable mutation and devoid of any type of transgene. With this technology we have obtained important quantities of pro-vitamin D3 in the fruits of the new tomato lines. Furthermore, the treatment of the tomatoes of this line with UV light was able to convert the pro-vitamin D3 into vitamin D, opening new perspectives for the production of tomatoes capable of directly supplying the active vitamin ”.
Aurelia Scarano, Cnr-Ispa, email: firstname.lastname@example.org