Can a genetic switch spice up supermarket tomato?

June 28, 2012
This Monday, May 30, 2011 photo shows tomatoes on a market table in Vienna, Austria. Using genetics, scientists have been able to dig up the dirt on why homegrown tomatoes taste so much sweeter than the ones in the supermarket. Researchers found a genetic switch responsible for some of the sugar production within a tomato. A study in the Friday, June 29, 2012 issue of the journal Science found that the common type of tomato bred for firmness and good shipping also inadvertently turns off the sugar-producing switch. That makes it less sweet and blander than garden varieties. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Using genetics, scientists have been able to dig up the dirt on why homegrown tomatoes taste so much sweeter than the ones in the supermarket.

Researchers found a genetic switch responsible for some of the sugar production within a tomato. A new study in Friday's edition of Science found that the common type of tomato bred for firmness and good shipping also inadvertently turns off the sugar-producing switch. That makes it less sweet and blander than garden varieties.

University of California Davis plant scientist Ann Powell said knowing the genetics behind the sugar-making could lead someday to development of sweeter tomatoes that also travel well.