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A tomato by any other gene: Just as sweet?

New research shows that the bland flavor of a popular variety of firm tomatoes is caused by a genetic switch. Locating this switch may enable scientists to create good-tasting and good-shipping tomatoes in the future.  

AP Photo/Ronald Zak
This file photo shows tomatoes on a market table. New research shows that a popular variety of tomato is bland because of its genes.

Using genetics, scientists have been able to dig up the dirt on why homegrown tomatoes taste so much sweeter than the ones in the supermarket.

Researchers found a genetic switch responsible for some of the sugar production within a tomato. A new study in Friday's edition of Science found that the common type of tomato bred for firmness and good shipping also inadvertently turns off the sugar-producing switch. That makes it less sweet and blander than garden varieties.

University of California Davis plant scientist Ann Powell said knowing the genetics behind the sugar-making could lead someday to development of sweeter tomatoes that also travel well.

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