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Biofortified tomatoes. The beginning of a revolution.

Vitamin D is very important for humans, but it’s not as easy to take. Present in many widely consumed foods, it is completely absent from vegetables. The concrete problem is its assimilation. Its deficiency can cause damage to the immune system, bone metabolism and inflammatory diseases of various kinds. But, an unprecedented revolution begins in Britain in June. According to a study published in the journal Nature Plants, the first production of biofortified tomatoes rich in vitamin D is underway. It would be the first vegetable to contain them. The CNR Institute of Food Production Sciences, in collaboration with the John Innes Center in Norwich, are the authors of the project.

So why the tomato?

“Once taken, the conversion from pro-vitamin D2 or D3 in foods to vitamin D takes place by exposing the skin to UV radiation. However, this carries serious risks such as skin cancers.

Unlike other vegetables, the tomato has the biosynthetic machinery capable of producing provitamin D3, as it generates minimal quantities of cholesterol for the synthesis of some defense compounds. Pro-vitamin is converted into cholesterol by the enzyme 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase 2. We thought that silencing this enzyme could produce more provitamin D3.”

Angelo Santino, one of the authors of the study, senior researcher at CNR ISPA (Institute of Food Production Sciences).

Two bio-fortified tomatoes a day might be enough for a sufficient supply of vitamin D.

Codename: CRISPR / Cas9.

Universe had already mentioned the name of genome editing protagonist of this revolution, underlining its disruptiveness in the field of genetic engineering. Although all the possible malicious uses mentioned in the article, in this reality the study offers a driving force for the resolution of many health problems deriving from food shortages, up to famine.

Not only.

Creating vegetables that improve health will spell a revolution in agriculture and commerce. As well as how cultured meat has shown to be able to make, with nutritional properties that are already healthier than ordinary meat and an environmental impact close to zero. In fact, with vitaminized vegetables, in the future it will no longer be necessary to have the right climate, but an excellent laboratory! Solving one of the main problems arising from climate change.

Given the growing importance of the topic, SIDI has applied a great deal in the creation of a research vertical on genetic engineering which aims to use genetic means for virtuous purposes of research, analysis and improvement.

To deepen the topic:

  1. What is cultured meat? a talk with SIDI’s Director
  2. 5 reasons why a criminologist should know how to deal with DNA
  3. 3D bioprinting technology for artificial meat

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