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chment of tomato fruit with health-promoting anthocyanins by expression of select transcription factors

Eugenio Butelli1, Lucilla Titta2, Marco Giorgio2, Hans-Peter Mock3, Andrea Matros3, Silke Peterek3, Elio G W M Schijlen4, Robert D Hall5, Arnaud G Bovy4, Jie Luo1 & Cathie Martin1

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Dietary consumption of anthocyanins, a class of pigments produced by higher plants, has been associated with protection against a broad range of human diseases. However, anthocyanin levels in the most commonly eaten fruits and vegetables may be inadequate to confer optimal benefits. When we expressed two transcription factors from snapdragon in tomato, the fruit of the plants accumulated anthocyanins at levels substantially higher than previously reported for efforts to engineer anthocyanin accumulation in tomato and at concentrations comparable to the anthocyanin levels found in blackberries and blueberries. Expression of the two transgenes enhanced the hydrophilic antioxidant capacity of tomato fruit threefold and resulted in fruit with intense purple coloration in both peel and flesh. In a pilot test, cancer-susceptible Trp53-/- mice fed a diet supplemented with the high-anthocyanin tomatoes showed a significant extension of life span.

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1. John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK.
2. Experimental Oncology Dept., European Institute of Oncology, Via Adamello 16, Milano, Italy.
3. Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Corrensstrasse 3, D-06466 Gatersleben, Germany.
4. Plant Research International, Business Unit Bioscience, PO Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.
5. Centre for BioSystems Genomics, PO Box 98, 6700 AB Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Correspondence to: Cathie Martin1 e-mail: cathie.martin@bbsrc.ac.uk

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