ICI Seeds of Wilmington, Del., a global business group ofImperial Chemical Industries plc (NYSE:ICI) of London,announced that its Japanese collaborator, Kagome, will beginlarge-scale field trials of ICI's gene technology for fruitripening, especially of tomatoes.

ICI Seeds has a "broad-based research program on fruitripening," Simon Best, the company's business manager forfruit and vegetable technology, told BioWorld. "We have 13fully characterized ripening genes," he said, including those forethylene biosynthesis; cell wall enzymes that contribute tosoftening, such as polygalacturonase (PG) and pectinmethylesterase (PE); flavor accumulation, which affectscarbohydrate and acid metabolism; and color or carotenoidbiosynthesis.

For color, specifically, ICI Seeds is "looking at the gene thataccounts for redness in tomatoes," Best told BioWorld. "Webelieve that it is clearly ours" in terms of date of publicationand patents pending.

ICI Seeds' agreement with Kagome covers both fresh andprocessing tomatoes, Best said, but the Japanese company'smajor current business is in processing tomatoes.

Under the collaboration, Kagome "will concentrate initially onthe pectin-degrading enzymes PG and PE -- similar to ouragreement with Hunt-Wesson Inc. in the U.S. -- with options tolook at the rest of the technology portfolio," Best said. And "ICIwill take a share of the benefits actually received by theprocessor."

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.