Parthenocarpic tomato lines transgenic for the DefH9-RI-iaaM gene have been cultivated under open field conditions to address some aspects of the equivalence of genetically modified (GM) fruit in comparison to controls (non-GM).
Under open field cultivation conditions, two tomato lines (UC 82) transgenic for the DefH9-RI-iaaM gene produced parthenocarpic fruits. DefH9-RI-iaaM fruits were either seedless or contained very few seeds. GM fruit quality, with the exception of a higher β-carotene level, did not show any difference, neither technological (colour, firmness, dry matter, °Brix, pH) nor chemical (titratable acidity, organic acids, lycopene, tomatine, total polyphenols and antioxidant capacity – TEAC), when compared to that of fruits from control line. Highly significant differences in quality traits exist between the tomato F1 commercial hybrid Allflesh and the three UC 82 genotypes tested, regardless of whether or not they are GM. Total yield per plant did not differ between GM and parental line UC 82. Fruit number was increased in GM lines, and GM fruit weight was decreased.
The use in the diet of fruits from a new line or variety introduces much greater changes than the consumption of GM fruits in comparison to its genetic background. Parthenocarpic fruits, produced under open field conditions, contained 10-fold less seeds than control fruits. Thus parthenocarpy caused by DefH9-RI-iaaM gene represents also a tool for mitigating GM seeds dispersal in the environment.