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Fruit-specific RNAi-mediated suppression of DET1 enhances carotenoid and flavonoid content in tomatoes

Nature Biotechnologyvolume 23pages890895 (2005) | Download Citation



Tomatoes are a principal dietary source of carotenoids and flavonoids, both of which are highly beneficial for human health1,2. Overexpression of genes encoding biosynthetic enzymes or transcription factors have resulted in tomatoes with improved carotenoid or flavonoid content, but never with both3,4,5,6,7. We attempted to increase tomato fruit nutritional value by suppressing an endogenous photomorphogenesis regulatory gene, DET1, using fruit-specific promoters combined with RNA interference (RNAi) technology. Molecular analysis indicated that DET1 transcripts were indeed specifically degraded in transgenic fruits. Both carotenoid and flavonoid contents were increased significantly, whereas other parameters of fruit quality were largely unchanged. These results demonstrate that manipulation of a plant regulatory gene can simultaneously influence the production of several phytonutrients generated from independent biosynthetic pathways, and provide a novel example of the use of organ-specific gene silencing to improve the nutritional value of plant-derived products.

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This work was supported by Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc., and by funding from the European Union (contract QLK5-CT-2000-00357), the Italian Ministry for Research and Education (FIRB contract RBNE01CFKB) to C.B. P.D.F. and P.M.B. acknowledge financial support from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (C19322).

Author information

Author notes

    • Ageeth van Tuinen

    Present address: Laboratory for Plant Physiology, Wageningen University, Arboretumlaan 4, 6703 BD, Wageningen, The Netherlands

    • Robert Newman

    Present address: Verdia Inc., 200 Penobscot Drive, Redwood City, California, 94063, USA

    • David A Brummell

    Present address: Crop and Food Research, Food Industry Science Center, Batchelar Road, Palmerston North, New Zealand

    • Stephen R King

    Present address: Department of Horticultural Sciences, Vegetable & Fruit Improvement Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, 77843-2119, USA


  1. Cell Signaling Laboratory, Stazione Zoologica, Villa Comunale, Naples, I-80121, Italy

    • Ganga Rao Davuluri
    • , Ageeth van Tuinen
    • , Alessandro Manfredonia
    •  & Chris Bowler
  2. Royal Holloway, University of London, Biological Sciences, Egham, TW20 OEX, Surrey, UK

    • Paul D Fraser
    •  & Peter M Bramley
  3. DNA Plant Technology, 6701 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, 94608, California, USA

    • Robert Newman
    • , Diane Burgess
    •  & David A Brummell
  4. Seminis Vegetable Seeds, Inc., 37437 State Highway 16, Woodland, 95695, California, USA

    • Stephen R King
    • , Joe Palys
    • , John Uhlig
    •  & Henk M J Pennings
  5. CNRS/ENS FRE2910, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 46 rue d'Ulm, Paris, 75230, Cedex 05, France

    • Chris Bowler


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chris Bowler.

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