Scientists Develop Genetically Modified Blood Oranges
Summary posted by Meridian on 3/20/2012
Researchers at the John Innes Centre in the U.K. have genetically modified (GM) ordinary oranges to turn them into "healthier" blood oranges -- which they say could soon be mass produced at a fraction of the current cost. Blood oranges get their distinctive color from pigments known as anthocyanins which also provide a variety of health benefits, for example lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. But the pigmentation only develops in certain climates where the fruit is exposed to a brief period of cold weather, meaning the oranges can only be commercially grown in a particular part of Italy and are consequently sold at a premium. The researchers at the John Innes Centre report that they have identified the gene responsible for the pigmentation, and they have engineered it so that it does not need cold in order to develop. The gene has been introduced into the more common Valencian variety of orange, and researchers hope to have their first fruit from the GM plants by the end of the year. "Hopefully in the near future we will have blood orange varieties which can be grown in the major orange growing areas like Florida and Brazil, so blood oranges will hopefully become more available worldwide and the healthy properties will be enjoyed by many more people," said Cathie Martin, who led the research. The article can be viewed online at the link below.
The original article may still be available at http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-03-13/science/31159282_1_blood-oranges-florida-and-brazil-genetic-engineering