New research turns lettuce into “superfood”

The future is already here – researchers at the Hebrew University have succeeded in genetically modifying lettuce and making it particularly healthy and rich in nutritional values. Five leaves of the improved lettuce a day, will provide the vitamin intake C Recommended for a person

Lettuce is a popular edible vegetable that we are all familiar with, but it is interesting to know that although it has a healthy image, compared to other green leaves we eat, it is relatively poor in nutritional values. It contains a relatively small amount of folic acid (spinach has 4 times), vitamin K (beetroot and chard leaves 8 times), or vitamin C (kale has 20 times). New research improves the nutritional value of lettuce using “genetic editing” technology and makes it a more nutritionally attractive vegetable.

In the study, doctoral student Yarin Aknin, accompanied by Prof. Sasha Weinstein from the Faculty of Food and Environmental Agriculture, was able to genetically edit lettuce leaves and add important vitamins and nutritional values. For example, the new leaves contain up to 4 times more vitamin C or about 50% more beta carotene, from which the body produces vitamin A, compared to the original tumors.

The technology used by the researchers makes it possible to access the genetic material (DNA) of lettuce, and make very small but significant changes to the ability to accumulate vitamins. “The advantage of technology is that you can decide in advance exactly what change you want to make and accept it in a relatively short time compared to the ‘natural way,'” Yarin explained. “The technology has been around for several years and is made possible thanks to a system called CRISPR. The system has great potential in the medical world, for curing genetic diseases and in agriculture and the environment, for producing plant varieties with improved desirable properties, such as increasing nutritional values, improving taste and smell, increasing yield and durability. “Natural for pests that will save on spraying.”

“We deliberately chose to use ‘Noga’ lettuce, a commercial variety of Roman lettuce (‘Arab lettuce’) adapted to growing in the Israeli climate, with light green leaves and a delicate taste. The intention was to produce improved lettuce that could quickly go beyond the laboratory and actually contribute to a healthier diet.” , Yarin continued. “It is possible that we will soon be able to see improved lettuce rich in nutritional values ​​in the marketing chains.”

“Apart from the obvious benefit of eating healthier lettuce, I think the important impact of the study is the proof that genetic editing technology can indeed be used in relatively short periods of time to improve agricultural crops. It is important that his food is healthier, more nutritious and tastier. “

In addition to the laboratory of Prof. Sasha Weinstein from the Faculty of Agriculture, Prof. Yossi Hirschberg, Dor Agmon, Tal Makov-Buenisch and Dr. Julius Ben-Ari from the Hebrew University, and Dr. Ari Sheffer, Yelena Jasselson, Dr. Dana Harubi also took part in the study. And Dr. Vivkanand Tiwari of the Volcanic Institute.

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