Now that the genome of the orange vegetable has been sequenced, scientists now know which gene of the 32,115 genes found in a carrot is responsible for the production of carotenoids which provides a tremendous source of Vitamin A as as the vegetables bright orange or sometimes red appearance.

Carrots Orange Color Finally Explained

Carrots provide fantastic nutritional offerings

It’s believed that the first carrots were grown thousands of years ago in what would now be Afghanistan. However, these carrots were largely purple and the iconic orange color in most commercial carrots did not come about until this color was stabilized in the 16th and 17th century in Holland.

The carrot is stocked with antioxidants and serves as a great provider of Vitamin A and other vitamins and minerals. All of this is delivered with no fat and few calories and studies have shown that carrots are excellent cancer fighters. Smokers who don’t eat carrots develop lung cancer three times more frequently than smokers who eat carrots each week. Carrots have also shown an effectiveness in preventing prostate cancer and shown to combat leukemia as well.

Today, researchers told the world that is the DCAR_032551 gene that is responsible for producing carotenoids that gave the vegetable its name. The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Genetics.

“Its plentiful carotenoids make carrot an important source of provitamin A in the human diet,” said the study in pointing out one of the many benefits to a diet where carrots are presence.

“Vitamin A deficiency is a global health challenge,” the study pointed out.

Daucus carota (the Latin name) is one of about a dozen vegetables that have had their genomes completely sequenced. That sequencing has led researchers to identifying the single gene that is most responsible for the carrots color and carotenoid production.

Only a dozen sequenced genomes of vegetables

The vegetable joins the select company of the cucumber, potato, tomato, the bell pepper and others in having their genes sequenced completely.

Researchers hope that with the sequencing, that they will be able to genetically modify the carrot to be more resistant to disease and pump of the volume on the carrots nutritional offerings. Presently, there are no genetically modified carrots worldwide but the sequencing will surely change this in the near future.

It’s also quite possible that the gene responsible for carotenoid could be exported via gene editing to other vegetables like the cassava to make that widely grown vegetable in Africa considerably higher in Vitamin A and other vitamins.

“These results will facilitate biological discovery and crop improvement in carrots and other crops,” said Philipp Simon, senior author and a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Carrots are quite simply really good for you. While it’s been believed for years that they improve vision that’s largely a myth that was created by the Royal Air Force during World War II. While Popeye swears by his spinach, Bugs Bunny swears by his vegetable of choice and with the vegetable’s beta-carotene levels which can be transformed into Vitamin A, it makes a fair amount of sense.

Vitamin A is responsible for normal development, builds the immune system and has a number of other benefits.

The vegetables have a tremendous amount of antioxidants which attack “free radicals” that try there best to attack health cells.

“Some of these compounds can prevent disease,” Simon told AFP.

It might surprise you to read that the humble root vegetable has roughly 20% more genes than in humans.