Informally referred to as the "fish tomato", DNA Plant Technology's transgenic tomato is genetically engineered with a gene from the winter flounder. It has become an icon in the debate over genetically modified foods, especially in relation to the perceived ethical dilemma of combining genes from different species. (See the metaphor of FrankenFood by Paul Lewis.)
The transgenic organism was created when a tomato plant (variety(s)/cultivar unknown) was infected with bacteria containing recombinant DNA. The antifreeze transgene that was inserted into the plasmid (antifreeze gene; staphylococcal Protein A) that created the recombinant DNA, had been isolated from the Winter flounder.
Although never commercialized, in 1991, DNA Plant Technology submitted a field test application to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeking approval for a field test, writing "Such limited field testing is required to develop a potential agricultural product." They had previously tested the tomato in greenhouse setting, although the results of these tests are unknown. Some commentators believe that the transgenic plant did not perform well in its frost-tolerance or other agronomic characteristics which is why it was never patented or commercialized.
- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (1991). Permit Number 91-079-01 tomato; antifreeze gene; staphylococcal Protein A (Report). http://www.isb.vt.edu/documents/ea/9107901r.ea.pdf.
- Mchugen, Alan (2000). Pandora's Picnic Basket. ISBN 0-19-850674-0.
- Lemaux, P. (2008). "Genetically Engineered Plants and Foods: A Scientist's Analysis of the Issues (Part I)". Annual review of plant biology 59: 771–812. doi:10.1146/annurev.arplant.58.032806.103840. PMID 18284373.