Case Study 1: Magical Nebula: A New Sweet Snack Tomato
Principal Investigators: IS: Ari Schaffer, (Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center); US: Mason Pharr (North Carolina State University), Alan Bennett (University of California, Davis)
Goal: To generate a superior tasting tomato through natural genetic manipulation.
Activities: The genetic and biochemical basis for sucrose accumulation was studied first in melons and then in wild tomatoes. Genes that determine greater sucrose and fructose content in wild tomatoes were successfully transferred to domestic cultivars through breeding in order to produce sweeter tasting tomatoes.
Outcomes: Subsequent R&D was carried out in conjunction with Zeraim Gedera, later bought by Syngenta. The first of 5 planned commercial varieties is the Nebula cherry snack tomato that entered the market in 2015 and is now grown in Europe, Canada and California.
Economic Benefit: Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is $220 million, thereof $24 million already attained. The Internal Rate of Return is 16%. Benefit-Cost Ratio is 47, thereof 6 already attained.
Capacity Building: At least 12 postgraduates were involved in the research supported by 5 BARD awards between 1987 and 1997. Currently, 7 of these are in academia in the US, Israel and China; 3 are in the biotechnology industry and another 1 at the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture.