A new study could allow scientists to create “diet” or low sugar fruits.
The research, undertaken by University of Newcastle Professor in Environmental and Life Sciences Yong-Ling Ruan has demystified sugar distribution in plants.
Professor Ruan, who’s been studying this issue for seven years, said the study uncovered the indicators that determine how much sugar is transported into the vacuole – the storage warehouse – of plant cells.
“This discovery provides new tools and directions for improving plant growth, defence and sugar levels using gene technology,” he explained.
“It opens the door to increase or reduce the amount of sugars in plants, helping farmers to increase the quality and yield of fresh products such as fruits and sugar cane or produce low- sugar, high sweetness fruit for a diabetic patient.”
Professor Ruan explained he was initially driven by curiosity, seeking to understand how sugar is transferred between different parts of cells.
The study examined apples and tomatoes, and the team uncovered evidence that two different types of sugar transporters work together to transport huge amounts of sugar into the storage warehouses of cells.
The research could help scientists understand long-held questions, such as why fruits are so sweet, but their leaves are not.
Professor Ruan said the findings “represent a major advance in understanding the molecular control of sugar transport and signaling, within plant cells.”