Ascorbic acid is an essential vitamin in the human diet, being positively correlated with a reduction in risk of different diseases. In a recent study published in The Plant Genome, Ruggieri et al. report the identification of a group of genes that increases the levels of ascorbic acid in tomato fruit by combining genomics, transcriptomics, and bioinformatics data.
In particular, information deriving from the recently sequenced tomato genome allowed the researchers to focus on the role of three pectinesterases and inhibitors of pectinesterases, which were polymorphic and/or differentially expressed between S. lycopersicum and the wild species S. pennellii, the latter exhibiting a very high level of ascorbic acid compared with the cultivated tomato. These genes could therefore be transferred from the wild to the cultivated species in order to obtain tomato fruit with a higher nutritional level.