Researchers in the UK have gene-edited tomatoes so their fruit contains vitamin D, Reuters reports.
Vitamin D, it notes, is needed for the development of strong teeth and bones. While it is produced by the body following exposure to sunlight, Reuters adds that its major source is from dairy and meat. But according to the researchers from the John Innes Centre, about 1 billion people have low vitamin D levels, which can affect risk of diseases like cancer.
As they report in Nature Plants this week, they used CRISPR-Cas9 to coax 7-dehydrocholesterol, a vitamin D precursor that is also known as provitamin D3, to be produced by tomato fruit. It is already produced by tomato leaves. The Innes team reports that one of their tomatoes harbored 30 percent of the recommended daily vitamin D amount when green and 20 percent when red.
"I think that having a dietary source (of vitamin D) in the form of a plant also means that you can get added benefit from eating tomatoes. We don't eat enough fruit and veg anyway. A tomato is a good source of vitamin C as well," coauthor Cathie Martin from Innes said at a news briefing, according to CNN.