Nutritious Food

Our research outcomes will contribute to the development of new, more nutritious products by the UK food sector.

We will do this by generating crop plants with systematic variation for starch digestibility, protein content and quality, mineral nutrient content and contents of health-promoting metabolites.

These materials will be assessed by collaborators for health benefits and for functionality, providing a rational basis for the development of cultivars with improved nutritional quality.

The outcomes will provide new economic opportunities for crop breeders and food manufacturing industries, plus healthy diets that will reduce the vast economic burden of obesity and related diseases.

GM purple tomatoes developed by John Innes Centre scientists in the UK are being on sale in the US following regulatory approval by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The colour of the tomatoes is derived from high levels of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds normally found in blueberries, blackberries and other deeply coloured berries.

The purple tomatoes have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects compared to regular ones and to slow the progression of soft-tissue carcinoma in cancer-prone mice. Purple tomatoes also have double the shelf life. Independent studies show that antioxidants and anthocyanins can reduce incidence of cancer, improve cardiovascular function, and improve health and well-being.

Our research is also using gene-editing techniques to increase the amount of vitamin D in tomatoes with the aim of developing a new biofortified crop which will help to alleviate vitamin D deficiency.

Recent research has also bred a wheat line that contains twice the typical amount of iron, something that cannot be achieved by normal breeding.