Scientists may improve flavor of ripening tomatoes
It’s possible, Klee said, that high CXE1 production in tomato plants is a trait that evolved in tandem with red-skinned fruit, providing a survival advantage. Perhaps the red color drew attention from animals and the pleasant taste inspired them to eat the fruit, leading to seed dispersal that established the plant in new areas.
Though this study may shed light on the tomato’s distant past, Klee is much more interested in its future.
“Because acetate esters are negatively correlated with consumer liking, we want to find ways to get rid of them,” he said. “I always tell people there are probably five or 10 chemicals we need to optimize to achieve an ideal flavor balance in tomato, and I think CXE1 is probably part of that group.”
Besides Klee, the research team included Charles Goulet, Melissa Mageroy, Nghi Lam, Abbye Floystad and Denise Tieman, all with UF’s horticultural sciences department.