doi:10.1038/nindia.2010.12 Published online 10 February 2010
Researchers have successfully reduced fruit softening in a transgenic tomato variety thereby increasing its shelf life.
They achieved this by suppressing two enzymes responsible for ripening in tomato -- the N-glycoprotein modifying enzymes, α-mannosidase (α-Man) and β-D-N-acetylhexosaminidase (β-Hex).
The suppression of these enzymes enhanced fruit shelf life due to the reduced rate of softening. The fruits were found to be firmer with a shelf life of close to a month.
The researchers also found that overexpression of these enzymes resulted in excessive fruit softening. Transcriptomic comparative studies demonstrate the down-regulation of cell wall degradation and ripening-related genes in RNAi fruits.
They suggest genetic manipulation of this class of enzymes to enhance fruit shelf life, without any negative effect on phenotype, including yield.