A plant biologist, Professor Martin has spent almost two decades studying tomatoes, and I had travelled to see her because of a particular one she created — a lustrous, dark purple variety that is unusually high in antioxidants, with twice the amount found in blueberries.
At 66, Martin has silver-white hair, a strong chin, and sharp eyes that give her a slightly elfin look. She has long been interested in how plants produce beneficial nutrients.
The purple tomato is the first she designed to have more anthocyanin, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compound.
“All higher plants have a mechanism for making anthocyanins,” Martin explained when we met. “A tomato plant makes them as well, in the leaves. We just put in a switch that turns on anthocyanin production in the fruit.”
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