Remember when tomatoes didn’t just taste like water? Well, scientists have mapped the entire genome of hundreds of varieties of tomatoes, and identified the genetic traits that make them yummy. Tomato breeders could use this genetic roadmap to create tomatoes that have the original, rich fruit flavor that many of today’s commercial varieties lack. The future for tomatoes is looking up.
Most grocery store tomatoes are flavorless because breeders haven’t been selecting for taste. Instead they have selected the fruit for qualities such as yield, disease resistance, and firmness. Those are key for shipping and storing tomatoes long term before they’re displayed at your local grocery store. But all that came at the expense of flavor.
The new study, published today in Science, represents an exhaustive genetic analysis of many varieties, from heirloom to cherry tomatoes. Researchers asked consumers to rate more than 160 tomato samples to identify which tomatoes people like …