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Plant Science

Purple stems
Purple stems show that tomatoes are able to make purple pigments called anthocyanins.
Purple skinned tomato Indigo Rose
Indigo Rose is one example of a variety traditionally bred with purple skins. 
Snapdragon flowers
Snapdragon is an edible flower that  makes purple pigments. 
The purple tomato
Snapdragon genes in tomato turn on purple pigment throughout the fruit.

Domesticated tomatoes already have genes to produce anthocyanins, but they are not "turned on" in most fruits (the purple skinned tomatoes now available were made by traditional breeding).


By carefully adding two genes from snapdragons that work like “on switches,” our tomatoes and juice are a rich source of antioxidants, because purple pigments are made in the whole tomato, not just the skins.


These products exemplify the principles of biomimicry and nature-based solutions.


Prof. Cathie Martin, our founder, was recognized with the prestigious Rank Prize for Nutrition in 2022, for “outstanding research into plant genetics and metabolism leading to enhanced nutritional qualities of fruits and vegetables.”  

Tomatoes provide an excellent target for genetic enhancement to raise levels of flavonoid antioxidants. Flavanoids (including anthocyanins) are a good source of water-soluble antioxidants, while the main antioxidant in ordinary tomatoes is lycopene – a fat-soluble molecule. There is evidence that best protection against disease is achieved when both types of antioxidants are present in the diet.

Butelli 2008

Here is the original publication describing how Prof. Cathie Martin's lab made the trait.  

Biodiversity & Choice

Several varieties of purple-skinned tomatoes are available.  Some of these are so-called heirloom varieties and others are the result of modern high-tech breeding.  But in every case, the purple is only skin-deep, and the levels of anthocyanin purple pigments present are many-fold lower than in our purple-fleshed fruit.  


We know from our grower partners and thousands of customers that consumers embrace bioengineering approaches to improve the nutrition of their food. 

There's no one right way to breed novel varieties of plants, and we're delighted to be able to bring consumers a completely new category of produce that's beautiful to behold and rich in the purple pigments that are good for us.

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