Researchers identify a new protein responsible for giving strawberries their red colour


A team of researchers from the University of Córdoba in Spain have made a major breakthrough in understanding what gives strawberries their characteristic red colour when ripe.

The discovery could benefit breeders and producers in Spain – Europe’s biggest strawberry producer – and other countries.

The Vegetable Biotechnology and Pharmacognosy research group, led by Juan Muñoz Blanco, have identified a new protein that is involved in the control of the colouration process. The protein, known as a transcription factor (FaMYB123), is responsible for activating or repressing the expression of other genes.

According to the research, which forms part of the doctoral thesis of the UCO-trained researcher Félix J. Martínez-Rivas and has been published in The Plant Journal, this transcription factor is primarily responsible for the production of anthocyanins, the pigments that give strawberries their characteristic red colour.

The study provides new knowledge on the control of strawberry ripening. Francisco Javier Molina Hidalgo, who forms part of the research team, said: “knowing which piece of the puzzle controls each part of the ripening process, in this case, the colour red, allows us to then manipulate it genetically or use it as a tool in breeding programmes”.