Scientists have created a genetically modified tomato plant, which could make it easy to grow tomatoes in an extremely challenging environment such as space.
FREMONT, CA: An idea that astronauts might enjoy the fresh, cherry-red fruits sounds borderline absurd. Tomato plants, along with their sprawling vines and bulbous fruits, take a lot of valuable space as well they are incredibly finicky. Currently, scientists have developed a method to genetically modify cherry tomatoes to ensure that they grow in tighter branches and occupy less space. This can be revolutionary as it can encourage to grow vertical, rooftop gardens and as humanity is stretching out past low-Earth orbit headed toward moon, and then eventually Mars.
To get the cherry tomatoes to grow in bunches like grapes; three critical genes within the plant’s DNA must be tweaked precisely using CRISPR gene-editing technology, as published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Two genes among the three, the so-called SELF PRUNING gene and the SP5G gene, administers when the plant stops growing and starts flowering and fruiting. The third gene SIER gene controls the length of the stems of the plant. Just a simple alteration of the first two genes resulted in the tomato plants that did not produce a lot of fruit and did not taste good. It was only after the discovery of the third gene that the scientists were able to create the perfect plant as expected.
This variant of the tomato plants size is not the only benefit of these tightly bound cherry tomatoes. These plants additionally take less time to grow, like just about 40 days approximately.
This demonstrates how modern innovation and technology can help the scientists produce crops in new ways, without even the need to tear up the land as much or use excessive fertilizers that runoff into rivers and streams and pollutes them. It is a complementary approach to help people feed locally with a reduced carbon footprint.