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Fourth echelon

Supersized fruit could be on the menu as scientists crack the mystery of the beefsteak tomato

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Supersized fruit could become routine on supermarket shelves after scientists unravelled the genetic secrets of the beefsteak tomato.

The reason the variety grows so big is because of a mutation in a gene behind its master ‘stem’ cells, a breakthrough with the potential for fine tuning the proportions of any crop of fruit.

The huge beefsteaks were among the first tomatoes brought to Europe from Mexico by Spanish conquistadors in the early 16th century.

More than a pound in weight, they were long believed to be a freak of nature but now it turns out the secret lies in the number of stem cells in the plant’s growing tip, or meristem.

The researchers traced an abnormal proliferation of stem cells to a naturally occurring mutation that arose hundreds of years ago. This variant is the reason we have beefsteak tomatoes today, reports Nature Gentics.


love a good juicy tomato with my burger. beefstake or heirloom is good. though here, heirloom sells for $4.00 a pound wtf


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