A staple of Mediterranean cuisine, the tomato can be used for pasta, to compliment a sandwich, or even on its own with a little cheese.
From an evolutionary standpoint, the chili pepper is a cousin to the tomato.More news: China trade talks conclude as hopes of a deal build
The sequencing of the chilli pepper genome and the discovery that the tomato has the genes necessary for pungency paves the way for engineering a spicy tomato.
For the uninitiated, chili plants developed their spicey defensive properties over millions of years. Meanwhile Native American horticulturalists in Mexico 6,000 years ago turned wild bird peppers into domesticated varieties that continued to produce capsaicins (the compounds that give peppers their delicious hotness).More news: Carlos Ghosn appears in court to challenge his detention
This new research published on January 7 in the journal Trends in Plant Science suggests that tomatoes may be engineered to produce capsaicinoids using the latest gene-editing techniques. Capsaicinoids have important medical uses, specifically in the treatment of cancer.
'Engineering the capsaicinoid genetic pathway to the tomato would make it easier and cheaper to produce this compound, which has very interesting applications, ' says senior author Agustin Zsögön, a plant biologist at the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil whose group is working toward this goal. Capsaicinoids, the chemicals that make food taste "hot", have shown promise as painkillers and are used in products like pepper spray. By altering tomatoes to produce capsaicinoids - the compounds that cause the burning sensation in our mouths when we eat something spicy - the scientists believe they could make mass production of capsaicin for various commercial uses.
'We have the tools powerful enough to engineer the genome of any species; the challenge is to know which gene to engineer and where'.More news: Alisson turned down Chelsea for Champions League football
Besides, how cool would it be to bite into a tomato and get the same kick you get from a hot chili?