What if vegetables never had dull colors and fuzzy skin or fruits that lack of flavor the produce aisle of the future could offer plant products that are designed for creative cooks and fussy eaters. In a review article published July 19 in the journal “Trends in Plant Science”, two food researchers describe how new breeding technologies have the potential to enhance the shape, size, color, and health benefits of produce, as well as to inform conventional breeding programs.
In their review, the authors describe how fast breeding with CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing doesn't rely on the addition of a new DNA sequence as is often the case with other genetically modified crops. Rather, these breeding technologies allow scientists to edit existing genes, particularly transcription factor genes called MYBs, which control many of a plant's key consumer traits. Information from these experiments can also be used to inform selection criteria in conventional breeding programs.
"MYBs often regulate the compounds that generate a fruit or vegetables, wow factor its color," Allan says. "These compounds are also associated with important health benefits such as lowering cardiovascular disease or acting as vitamins. By using MYBs to elevate these compounds to create a richer color, we can make produce both more appealing to consumers and more beneficial for the human diet." I think this is a wonderful effort. Anything we can do to lower the risk of disease and overall improve everyone’s health is a win.