If you’ve ever wished that your tomato plants were a bit more compact, you’re in luck. A team of scientists, led by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor and HHMI Investigator Zach Lippman, has come up with a genetically-engineered tomato plant that is more a bush than a vine, with fruits that grow like a bunch of grapes.
Urban farming has been garnering a lot of attention in recent years on the grounds that it could provide food for city dwellers while reducing the environmental costs of growing and transporting it. And while raising crops in warehouses or shipping containers has its attractions, it comes up against the fact that city real estate tends to be very expensive compared to conventional farmland, so the space the plants take up is at a premium.
To minimize this, Lippman’s team is working on genetically engineering a variety of crops that are more compact than their conventional versions while maintaining the quality – the first plant in their sights is “urban agriculture tomatoes.”