14 June 1999
GM boffins look to lettuce

BIOTECHNOLOGISTS have designs on the traditional English lettuce, with plans to make it curlier, crunchier, faster growing and less likely to wilt.

They claim to have discovered genes which they can alter to tweak the size and shape of a lettuces leaf veins and the speed at which the leaves develop.

Domenico Mariotti, of the Instituto di Biochimica ed Ecofisiologia Vegetali del CNR in Rome, said the same gene modification could be made to other leaf crops to create super curly spinach, or cabbages that look exotic but taste like conventional varieties.

Greenhouse trials of the new gene-altered lettuces will be conducted by Gs Fresh Salads in Ely, Cambridgeshire.

It is hoped to have a range of commercial varieties under trials in three to four years.

  • The Independent 14/06/99 page 10