A group of researchers from Cornell University and the University of California, Davis, among others, has identified the gene that controls sugars, carbohydrates and carotenoids in tomatoes.
The gene also influences how tomatoes ripen, according to a news release.
Until the late 1920s, tomatoes ripened unevently.
Back then, breeders stumbled across a natural mutation that caused tomatoes to ripen and turn red uniformly.
Cuong Hguyen, a graduate student, and colleagues at the Boyce Thompson instituIe for Plant Research, identified the exact location of the uniform ripening gene on chromosome 10.
At the same time the gene causes uniform color formation, it also eliminates a protein, reducing sugar levels within the fruit.
The discovery will allow breeders to test seedling DNA for the uniform ripening gene if they're targeting red fruit.
Others who are focusing more on flavor may want the plants to be free of the ripening gene.