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Scientists Discover Secrets for Tastier Tomatoes

09/09/2014

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[00:00.00]
  • Scientists have discovered the genetic secrets of two unpopular members of two favorite food families.
  • [00:11.43]
  • They hope the discoveries will produce tastier tomatoes and stronger rice.
  • [00:18.82]
  • The scientists discovered the complete set of genetic rules of African rice and wild tomatoes.
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  • They published their studies in two reports in the journal Nature Genetics.
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  • There are good reasons African rice and wild tomatoes have not been popular.
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  • Asian rice is more productive and easier to process than African rice.
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  • The wild tomato is poisonous.
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  • Rod Wing is a plant biologist at Arizona State University.
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  • He helped map the African rice genes. And there is some good news to report.
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  • "There are some varieties that have been kinda well-adapted to grow in kind of mangrove areas,
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  • which are quite a bit more salty than you would experience for Asian rice."
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  • Mr. Wing says African rice can grow in salty and even poisonous soil.
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  • And it can grow around weeds and in extremely dry conditions.
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  • He says this strength is increasingly important as climatechange makes crop production more difficult.
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  • He says that this is important because the Earth's population is growing quickly.
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  • "There's gonna be two-to two-and-a-half-billion more people on the planet in less than 40 years,
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  • and that's a pretty scary scenario."
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  • Scientists will be able to make better rice faster.
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  • They can now identify the genes that control what is good
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  • about African rice and combine those genes with Asian rice.
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  • The wild tomato also has some good qualities.
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  • Scientists found that it can grow in salty as well as very dry conditions,
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  • like the African rice.
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  • Bjorn Usadel of Germany's RWTH Aachen University is one of the scientists
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  • who published the genetic maps of the two plants.
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  • The map identifies the genes that may be responsible for these qualities.
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  • "The tomatoes are green and potentially there's something inside that's just not healthy;
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  • but there's also other interesting things inside."
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  • The new map could also help improve the quality of tomatoes sold in food stores.
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  • Many people say these tomatoes do not taste very good.
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  • Mr. Usadel says researchers found differences in the genes of wild
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  • and farm-grown tomatoes that affect how they taste and smell.
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  • "So, even though these wild tomatoes definitely don't taste better,
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  • this population gives us actually an indication where the taste is coming from."
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  • The scientist says there is another use for the map.
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  • He says it will permit scientists to make sure that any new kinds of tomatoes developed from wild tomato
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  • do not carry any of its poisonous genes.
  • [03:40.17]
  • I'm Caty Weaver.
  • [03:42.01]
  • Words in the News
  • [03:46.58]
  • popular - adj. liked by many people; generally approved by the public
  • [03:55.54]
  • favorite - adj. liked more than others ("Ice cream was her favorite food.")
  • [04:04.19]
  • publish - v. to make public something that is written; to include something in a book, newspaper or magazine
  • [04:15.70]
  • climate - n. the normal weather conditions of a place
  • [04:22.22]
  • different - adj. not the same
  • [04:27.09]
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