We all know that tomatoes are red. That's no news, but how did they become red and why are they not blue, purple or have any other color?
New research shows that the meteorite which crashed into the Earth 60 to 70 million years ago, wiping out dinosaurs, gave us large, red tomatoes as
well. This can be deduced from a tomato genome analysis.
Scientists who mapped the tomato genome have established that the genome of the original tomato plant suddenly tripled in size about 60 to 70 million
"Such a big genome expansion points to extremely stressful conditions," says René Klein Lankhorst, the Wageningen UR coordinator of the tomato genome
"We suspect that the meteorite crash and the resulting solar eclipse had created conditions difficult for plants to survive.
A distant ancestor of the tomato plant then reacted by expanding its genome considerably in order to increase its chances of survival."
When conditions subsequently improved again, this ancestor of the tomato got rid of a lot of genetic ballast, but the genetic base for fruit formation
had already been developed by then, the tomato fruit acquired its red colour and certain genes which produced toxins disappeared, says Klein
In this way, the tomato differentiates itself from a family member, the potato, which has no edible fruits.
The plant researchers could "look back" very far into the past by comparing the tomato plant genome with family members in the nightshade and other
plant families. And they had the advantage of having almost mapped all the 35 thousand genes of the tomato, which made even small changes
For example, a comparison of the locally produced vegetable crop with the wild ancestor Solanum pimpinellifolium (probably brought to Europe by the
Spanish) showed that the genome of the Dutch tomato differs by only 0.6 percent from that of its wild ancestor from the 15th Century.
So the tomato's red color was acquired in part because of the meteor crash, as well as its edibility.
Incredibly, the genetic makeup of tomato plants all around the world can be traced to these tomato plant ancestors, proving the link between the
dinosaur extinction causing meteor and the common red fleshy fruits.
MessageToEagle.com based on information provided by Wageningen UR
edit on 19-6-2012 by cheesy because: (no reason given)