Fruit ripening gene discovery could improve food business yields

United Kingdom scientists at the University of Leicester have identified a gene that regulates fruit ripening. The discovery offers serious potential to aid food production by permitting more natural forms of food preservation.

The gene found in the nuclei of plant cells is said to regulate chloroplast development through a process called “ubiquitin proteasome.”

The study, published in the Science Journal, used thale cress to alter the speed chloroplasts change into various plant cell structures, including the structures that ripen fruit.

The scientists are currently testing the potential for use of the process on crop plants such as tomatoes, bell peppers and citrus to affect fruit ripening.

Professor Paul Jarvis, who led the project, said that the identification of the “previously unsuspected link” was a major breakthrough in biology. Mr Jarvis said that the breakthrough may allow chloroplast function manipulation in crops.

“It is incredible to get to this point – it has been a long journey. We have known for some time that this was going to be a big breakthrough,” Mr Jarvis said.

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