Many fruits have a literal sweet spot–that point when they’re just the right amount of ripe to taste their most delicious. Eat them before then, or after then, and you might be disappointed.
Ethylene is the naturally occurring chemical that causes fruit to ripen, and it can be accelerated by damaging the fruit or subjecting it to high temperatures. But for scientists, the trick is to find a way to prevent ethylene from ripening fruit too quickly when it’s being transported across long distances to various markets.
There are two genes involved in preventing fruit from ripening, ETR1 and CTR1. Both of these genes “turn off” when ethylene is present. So by strengthening these genes to resist the siren call of ethylene, fruit can be genetically modified to keep it from ripening during transport. The trick is to make these genes stronger, but not so strong that the fruit never ripens. So it remains a challenge for scientists working to create longer-lasting fruit!
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