Why are tomatoes in the store tasteless?
It has already become customary to scold shop tomatoes for lack of taste and smell. They are called "plastic", "cardboard" and "grass-grass." There are many versions explaining this fact. Someone speaks about gene modification, someone about hydroponic cultivation technology. Let's see why store tomatoes are so unlike the ones we ate in childhood.
Hydroponics is not to blame
First of all, we will destroy the myth that hydroponics is to blame for taste. Plants grown using hydroponics are the most real, natural and organic. There is nothing unusual in the composition of nutrient solutions that are supplied to the roots of plants, there are no mythical steroids or secret additives when using hydroponics. Experts confirm that the taste of vegetables grown using hydroponics cannot be distinguished from ordinary ones.
Is the tomato's biggest problem ripening?
By nature, it is envisaged that, simultaneously with ripening, redness, and the formation of substances responsible for taste and aroma, the tomato begins to deteriorate. This is due to the synthesis of the enzyme that destroys pectin, which leads to softening and loss of shape of the fetus. In nature, it is necessary for the plant to disperse the seeds. The fruit becomes softer, creating an excellent environment for microorganisms, cracks, and loses its presentation. It is impossible to separate the processes of ripening and spoilage.
You may have noticed that tastier tomatoes are unevenly colored, with green areas around the stalk. However, such ugly tomatoes spoil too quickly, and therefore it is not profitable to sell them in a store.
Where did the tomatoes come from in stores?
Photosynthesis in tomatoes is regulated by two genes - GLK1 and GLK2. Their functions partially complement each other, and the failure of any of them does not lead to disturbances in the physiology of the plant. Both genes work in the leaves. In ripening fruits - only GLK2. His work in the region of the stalk is higher, which leads to uneven ripening, when half of the fruit is already red, and part is still green.
For very many years, the efforts of breeders around the world have been directed towards the cultivation of “beautiful” varieties of tomatoes, the fruits of which are painted uniformly and, accordingly, stored longer without losing their shape. And once, during selection (note that there is nothing to do with genetic modifications), the GLK2 gene “broke”. This was determined by biologists from the United States and Spain, deciphering the genetic basis of such tomatoes.
In plants with spoiled GLK2, unripe fruits have a uniform pale green color and also redden evenly. At the same time, due to the reduced level of photosynthesis, less sugar and other soluble substances are formed in them, which deprives the tomato of taste and aroma.
Breeders supported by buyers.
The unripe fruits of tomatoes with the non-working GLK2 gene have a uniform pale green color and are stained evenly, retain their presentation for longer, and beautiful varieties with this trait quickly captured counters and fields. And we, as buyers, supported such varieties with a wallet, preferring beautiful varieties to ugly ones. But at the same time, photosynthesis stopped in the fruits of such tomatoes, they became less sugars and aromatic substances: tomatoes lost their real taste.
Genetic engineering can fix tomatoes.
It is now known that a group of scientists from several universities - American, Spanish and Argentinean - “added” a working version of the GLK2 gene to the tomato genome and “included” it. The results were successful: the new tomatoes were tastier, but the uniformity of color remained.
The irony of fate is that genetic engineering, which we unreasonably blame for the poor taste of tomatoes, was able to fix and improve what the breeders ruined.
Perhaps someday, when humanity will sort out its attitude to genetic technologies, we will be able to see delicious tomatoes in stores. But the security issue of such technologies is not the subject of this article.