Scientists Examine the Possibility of Growing Tomatoes Under 24/7 Light Exposure
NETHERLANDS - Scientists in the Netherlands have published an article in Nature, exploring the possibility of cultivating tomatoes capable of growing under constant light exposure. These scientists have isolated a gene in wild tomato species, the type III light harvesting chlorophyll a/b binding protein 13 (CAB-13) gene, which confers a much higher degree of light tolerance than that enjoyed by traditional tomato species.
As Gizmodo documents, modern tomato varieties require roughly eight hours a day of darkness in order to halt the growing cycle. A lack of this rest leads to the growth of yellow spots on the tomato plant and eventually death.
These scientists however postulate that the increased resistance the type III gene confers could negate the need for this rest cycle, allowing the tomatos to grow at a continuous, uninterrupted rate without negative consequences on quality.
What does this mean for growers? It means a 20% increase in crop yields if these scientists are proven correct.
Gizmodo does note however that this new breed is still a ways off. Before growers have a viable variety to work with, researchers would first need to work out if there are any other genetic factors at work in conferring this light resistance to these wild tomato plants in addition to how the protein, sugar, and electrolyte balance of traditional varieties would react under these growing conditions.
Regardless of the challenges, this is certainly a compelling idea. I know I'll certainly be following how this research progresses as we move into the future.