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article imageScientists investigate ways to slow down the ripening of fruit

By Tim Sandle     Jun 15, 2013 in Food
Scientists have pinpointed the mechanism which results in fruit ripening. This relates to a plant gene which is activated by the production of the gaseous hormone ethylene.
Ethylene is a gaseous hormone that aids in the ripening process in fruit. It is also responsible for various other plant functions, such as defending against pathogens and regulating growth.
Until recently it has been unknown which genes within a plant are affected by the hormone. However, researchers based at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified each genetic component, according to a newly published research paper.
Now that these genes have been discovered, the researchers have a stated aim of developing new plant strains with slower or faster growth and ripening or resistance to infection. This will involve the creation of genetically modified foods, which may not, pun intended, be to everyone's taste.
Commenting on the research, Joseph Ecker, the Salk plant biologist, said in a statement: "Now that we know the genes that ethylene ultimately activates we will be able to identify the key genes and proteins involved in each of these branch pathways, and this might help us manipulate the discrete functions this hormone regulates."
The finding is similar to a paper submitted to a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), held in Philadelphia last August, where scientist Xihong Li outlined the development of a new spray which can be used to delay the ripening of bananas.
More about Fruit, ripening, Banana, Food spoilage, Gmo
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