Tags: carrots | orange | gene | beta-carotene

Why Carrots Are Orange: 1 Gene Out of 32K Likes Beta-Carotene

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By    |   Wednesday, 11 May 2016 06:16 AM

Researchers now know why carrots are orange. One gene out of more than 32,000 kicks off a process in the taproot for accumulating beta-carotene – and the more there is of that, the deeper the orange color is.

They found the answer after breaking down the carrot's genome and also discovered why the plant is loaded with vitamin A and has an important nutrient for vision, according to Reuters.

Carrots have become one of the world's most popular crops with its consumption quadrupling from 1976 to 2013, noted Reuters, and they have been bred to be more orange over the past four decades with 50 percent more nutrients.

Scientists discovered the gene DCAR_032551 which "conditions carotenoid accumulation in carrot taproot," according to research published Monday in the science journal Nature Genetics. The researchers believe the gene "regulates upstream photosystem development and functional processes, including photomorphogenesis and root de-etiolation" of the carrot.

Agence France-Presse noted that carrots are full of beta-carotene, a natural chemical that the body can transform into Vitamin A, and you can determine how much beta-carotene is in a carrot by the deepness of the orange color.

"Vitamin A is critical for vision as an essential component of rhodopsin, a protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors, and because it supports the normal differentiation and functioning of the conjunctival membranes and cornea," according to the National Institutes of Health website.

"Vitamin A also supports cell growth and differentiation, playing a critical role in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs." 

The Nature Genetics study said the carrot research could lead to crop improvement in carrots and other plants.

"Looking back at the plant's family tree, scientists have been able to determine that it split with the grape about 113 million years ago and from the kiwi about 10 million years after that, when dinosaurs still lorded over the planet," noted AFP. "Originally white, the wild ancestors of the carrot likely came from central Asia."

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Researchers now know why carrots are orange. One gene out of more than 32,000 kicks off a process in the taproot for accumulating beta-carotene – and the more there is of that, the deeper the orange color is.
carrots, orange, gene, beta-carotene
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2016-16-11
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 06:16 AM
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