Natural antioxidants have attracted a great deal of interest in recent years because of their recognizable health benefits. A study from the Metropolitan Autonomous University of Mexico clarified different levels of antioxidants by focusing on eight genotypes of tomatoes containing fruits of different colors.
Laura Pérez-Flores led a team of researchers in an assessment of the variation in carotenoid, polyphenol and tocopherol content among selected hybrid and indigenous tomato lines, as well as fruit antioxidant testing. In addition, the expression of genes related to the metabolism of isoprenoids and two transcription factors related to pigmentation was determined.
Pérez-Flores explains: "Tomatoes are the main source of antioxidants in the diet, but little is known about their content and their regulation in genotypes of different colors, shapes and sizes." The association of levels more high specific antioxidants with particular colorings of the fruit suggests a "balance" between these compounds ".
The findings of these researchers are highlighted in their article entitled "Antioxidant balance and regulation of tomato genotypes of different colors", presented in this issue of Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of antioxidants and contribute significantly to human health because of their anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic and antithrombotic properties. The results of this study support either the direct marketing of fruit tomatoes of different colors, or the use of their genotypes in breeding programs to increase antioxidant levels among existing cultivars.
Carotenoids and tocopherols are among the main lipophilic antioxidants found in tomatoes. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that have interfered with the initiation, promotion and progression of cancer. The main polyphenols of tomato are hydroxycinnamic acids, flavanones, flavonols and anthocyanins.
In recent years, the biosynthetic pathways of carotenoid, tocopherol and chlorophyll have been studied because of their importance for understanding the regulatory dialogue that contributes to the nutritional quality of tomato fruits.
The study was conducted in Mexico, which is a center for tomato diversification and domestication and thus offers a wide range of indigenous genotypes with fruits of different colors, shapes and sizes. These genotypes could be integrated into breeding programs to increase the nutraceutical properties of commercial cultivars and recover antioxidant compounds lost during the breeding process.
All genotypes used in this study were part of the Mexican Plant Genetic Resources Network. The study lines, native and hybrid, were planted according to a completely randomized block design with three replicates and each experimental unit included 10 plants.
The researchers found that higher levels of specific antioxidants were associated with particular coloring of tomato fruits. These genotypes could be used either directly in the diet or in breeding programs to recover larger quantities of functional compounds such as carotenoids, tocopherols, anthocyanins and vitamin C.
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