UF researchers unlock key to heirloom tomato flavor

05/25/2012 04:03:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

University of Florida researchers say they believe they've unlocked the key to creating commercial tomato varieties that taste like heirloom varieties.

A team led by UF horticulture professor Harry Klee analyzed the chemical components of about 100 tomato varieties, including many heirlooms, according to a news release.

As part of their work, they calculated the levels of each chemical identified.

They then subjected the tomatoes to taste tests that involved 13 panels of 100 people who rated each tomato's taste.

The results showed that some chemicals thought important to taste weren't, and some chemicals not considered important were.

Cis-3-hexenal, for example, was long considered important to tomato taste because of its abundance.

But the taste tests showed no correlation to what people liked.

Geranial, on the other hand, was considered less important. But it correlated strongly with the highest-rated tomatoes and enhanced sweetness.

Heirloom varieties that rated high included cherry tomatoes Cherry Roma and Maglia Rosa; medium-sized Ailsa Craig and the large German Queen.

"We really have to rethink the way that we look at what is the chemistry of flavor," Klee said in the release.

His research now has begun to look at ways to transfer those important flavor chemicals into commercial tomato varieties.

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lebanon  |  June, 02, 2012 at 09:10 AM

We in Lebanon we have a tomato type which in our opinion is exelent but we canot have planted twice in the same place do you think that can we know the reason if we check the dna

Jeffrey Dearborn    
The Dalles OR  |  June, 06, 2012 at 10:02 AM

This report is nice but misses the mark completely. The genetics of a tomato control the flavor when the tomato is not over watered or pushed to excessively high yields. Measuring chemical compounds in tomatoes that taste good to customers does not prove anything about the ability to retain those genes (many hundreds) as the breeder is attempting to make an heirloom flavored tomato out of a high yielding disease resistant variety. Nice try, but you are trying to sell the horse before he's run the race. The breeder has to select for flavor first in his breeding program. This searching for a short cut is a classic waste of time and energy, sounds good so will probably receive tons of funding.

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