Del Monte has genetically modified pineapples (Ananas comosus var. comosus) that are sold as whole fruit in the United States. This pineapple is allegedly genetically modified to differentiate its products on the market. Their genetically modified pineapple is rose and has been named Del Monte Rose and is grown on their farms in Costa Rica. Rose pineapple is a sweeter variety of pineapple inserted modified genes from pineapple (Ananas comosus) and tangerine (Citrus reticulata). Rose pineapple has been genetically modified for increased production of lycopene which is a carotenoid and a pigment, and for control of flowering. Rose pineapple can be propagated vegetatively from pineapple tops and leaves. Genetic elements from potato (Solanum tuberosum) and tobacco (Nicotiana tobacum) have also been used.
The color is produced by altered expression of genes involved in lycopene biosynthesis. Lycopene is an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color. In ordinary pineapple, the pink colored pigment (lycopene) is further processed into yellow pigments (beta-carotene). In the genetically modified pineapple, this further process is inhibited, and the fruit accumulates the pink pigment lycopene. Lycopene is found in red tomatoes, and consumption of tomatoes has been associated with a reduced incidence of prostate, lung and stomach cancers.
Rose pineapple is inserted mandarin Psy-gene for Phytoene synthase (phytoene synthase) which is overexpressed and leads to higher cellular production of phytoene synthase which is a primary enzyme essential in the biosynthesis of lycopene. RNA interference (RNAi) technology has also been used to suppress the expression of two specific genes, lycopene-b-cyclase (bLyc) and lycopene-e-cyclase (eLyc), this also to increase the accumulation of lycopene in the fruit. The fruit becomes rose colored inside and out due to the accumulation of lycopene pigments.
The plant has also been genetically modified to give the producer control over flowering. Changes have been made to the expression of the pineapple genes for ethylene biosynthesis. RNAi has been used to alter levels of ethylene biosynthesis by suppressing gene expression for 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) production. Ethylene is a plant hormone that can promote flower initiation and stimulates flower development. By inhibiting the production of 1-aminocyclopropane-l-carboxylic acid (ACC), which is the precursor of ethylene, pineapples are prevented from flowering.
A bacterium (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) has been used to carry out the transfer of these gene modifications, produced in and selected from bacterial culture, to pineapple germ cells. This was done by cultivating Agrobacterium bacteria with transformation plasmids (rings of produced DNA) for increased lycopene (antioxidant) and reduced ethylene (plant hormone) biosynthesis together with pineapple tissue from Del Monte gold extra sweet.
Pineapple tissue from Del Monte gold extra sweet pineapple was used. Del Monte Rose is therefore a brand of pineapple derived through genetic modifications to Del Monte Gold Extra sweet. Del Monte Rose is therefore originally derived from Del Monte extra sweet which has been genetically modified to process much more of the antioxidant lycopene than the first generation. This genetic modification changes the color of the pulp to pink. Other fruits such as guavas, tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit and papaya contain naturally high concentrations of lycopene. Too much can lead to yellow-orange colored skin and/or gastrointestinal discomfort.