Purple is apparently the new green for scientists at the University of Florida who have been working on genetically modifying the Mexican lime.
Manjul Dutt and Judge Grosser both work at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center as scientists. The pair have modified Mexican limes to have a protein that will induce the biosynthesis of anthocyanins in the lime.
Anthocyanins are typically found in plants, in the tissues of the leaves and stems. They are vacuolar pigments that can appear red, blue or purple depending on the pH.
Dutt and Grosser developed the genetically modified limes using genes that were isolated from red grapes and blood oranges.
Anthocyanins have also been found to play a huge role in the overall health of humans. Previous pharmacological studies have shown that these play a part in preventing health issues such as obesity and diabetes.
Anthocyanins are also found in blood oranges. However, the blood oranges need much colder environments in order to develop the dark red color.
Margarita lovers can rejoice because anthocyanins are completely odorless and nearly flavorless. However, while the flavor of the margarita will remain the same, the color may be a lot more vibrant if genetically modified limes are used.
Initially, researchers were after a way to help Florida farmers grow blood oranges, instead of the blood oranges having to be grown in Italy and Spain where colder temperatures are found.
Dutt and Grosser have also acknowledged that the introduction of anthocyanins may go beyond just changing the color of limes.
The pair believes that various fruit, plant and leaf colors could be developed as a novelty.
Dutt and Grosser’s research was recently published in the January edition of the “Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.”