Truth Time for the ‘TomTato’

Potato-Tomato? Image credit: Manjith Kainickara via Flickr ( License )

If ever there was a single no-go area in science, fiddling with the food would be the most likely candidate. We as a public seem unwavering in our determination to keep our grub au naturel. A curiosity, considering our heartfelt reliance on all things microwavable. After all, what could be more natural than cooking food from the inside out using low energy radiation!

While causing less of a stir than science’s previous forays into culinary matters, the ‘TomTato’ plant, a plant that grows both potatoes and tomatoes, has still brought its fair share of suspicious sideways glances. 1 So should we be worried? Well fortunately genetic manipulation, the biggest and brightest of big bright warning lights, can remain firmly off for this catering quandary. The TomTato plant was created by a process known as grafting, where the tissues of two plants are joined in such a way that their internal circuitry fuse and effectively function as one. This means the DNA from each plant remains intact and unaltered, retained in the original sections from each of the parent plants 2. An unhappy by-product of this ethical bypass: it’s quite impossible for a TomTato plant to produce other TomTatoes, as each one has to be hand-made making large cultivations virtually impossible. On the other hand, it is more than safe to eat any produce from these plants as it is effectively the same as you would get from the separate tomato and potato plants. Alas, there are no superpowers to be had from these tatties. Science can be a killjoy sometimes.



  1. BBC Article. 
  2. Reece, J. et al. (2011), Campbell Biology, 9th Edition, USA: Pearson Education Inc.

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