Find out more about the food you eat.
To help plant breeders improve the potatoes and tomatoes we eat we need to understand the background to the qualities (e.g. flavour) we are interested in. Below are some of the qualities investigated by EU-SOL and how genes can affect them.
A variety of different compounds contribute to the unique taste of a tomato, however, it seems it is the amount and type of sugar and acid they contain that affects their taste most dramatically.
A) The amount of sugar and acid in the tomato
Simply put the more acid it has, the sourer it tastes and the more sugar it has, the sweeter. Tomatoes with little of both sugar and acid will taste bland.
B) The type of sugar and acid in the tomato
This affects tomato taste because some sugars taste sweeter than others and some acids taste sourer than others. Tomato has two contains two main types of simple sugar, sucrose and fructose. Fructose is three times sweeter to our taste buds than sucrose even though they both have roughly the same calorific content. So the greater the ratio of fructose to sucrose the sweeter the tomato will taste.
This is how artificial sweeteners work; they use a very sweet tasting type of compound (such as Saccharine which is 300 times sweeter than sucrose) which either have little dietary value or need to be used in such small quantities that they achieve the same sweetness as a certain amount of table sugar (sucrose) for a much lower calorific intake.
Similarly, tomatoes contain two main types of acid, citric acid and malic acid. Although malic acid tastes 14 times sourer to us, it is citric acid that produces most of the sour taste in tomatoes as it is present is much greater quantities.