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Harry Klee - University of Florida. Gainesville, FL, US

Harry Klee Harry Klee

Professor | University of Florida

Gainesville, FL, UNITED STATES

Harry Klee’s research interests center around the biochemistry and genetics that underlie flavor in tomato and other fruits.


Harry Klee holds the Dickman Chair for Plant Improvement. Harry's research interests center around the biochemistry and genetics that underlie flavor in tomato and other fruit, and he has pioneered the use of transgenic plants to boost hormone function.

Industry Expertise (3)

Agriculture and Farming

Food Production

Food Processing

Areas of Expertise (2)

Genetically Modified Crops

Tomato Breeding

Media Appearances (6)

How farmers and scientists are engineering your food

BBC  online


Prof Harry Klee of Florida University's horticultural sciences department is working to understand the chemical and genetic make-up of fruit and vegetable flavours - focusing on the tomato. "The tomato has been a long-term model system for fruit development. It has a short generation time, great genetic resources and [is] the most economically important fruit crop worldwide.

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Curious about the sense of smell and loss after COVID-19? UF can help

The Gainesville Sun  online


Others, like flavor and scent projects with citrus, strawberries and tomatoes, done by Yu Wang, Linda Bartoshuk and Harry Klee, search for new compounds that help enhance sweetness or reduce bitterness, he said. Their findings could be harnessed to help reduce the amount of sugars added to juices, make children's medicine easier to swallow and up the appeal of healthy but less popular foods.

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Gardening Q&A: 2 improved varieties of tomato will be sold under Proven Winners brand

The Virginian Pilot  online


The tomatoes are Garden Treasure and Garden Gem, developed at the University of Florida’s horticulture department by Harry Klee. Klee is Eminent Scholar, Dickman Chair for Tomato Improvement. His areas of research are biochemistry and genetics of flavor, and tomato fruit development. His lab is working to understand the chemical and genetic makeup of the flavors in fruits and vegetables, and then to develop varieties for the home garden that have heirloom taste coupled with improved performance.

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Help Wanted from Tomato Taste Testers Around the World

Growing Produce  online


“We have always encouraged feedback from these gardeners, and the enthusiasm they have shown encouraged us to formalize the process” Klee says. “Although UF/IFAS has supported the distribution of our seeds for roughly five years, this is the first time that we have established a formal program to collect data from individuals throughout the world, involving them directly in selection of new garden tomato varieties.”

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The Great Tomato Debate: Should You Refrigerate or Not For Best Taste?

Discover Magazine  online


“If you take the literature as a whole, the story is much more complicated than you shouldn’t or should refrigerate tomatoes,” says Harry Klee, a molecular biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Klee was the lead researcher for a different study, published in 2016 in PNAS, about the impact of refrigeration on tomato taste. His team’s conclusion: Don’t refrigerate, like the packaging reads on NatureSweet Cherubs — "It's too cold in there!"

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Bringing back a tastier tomato

CBS News  tv


Biologist Harry Klee, of the University of Florida in Gainesville, has been researching tomatoes and their disappearing flavor for more than two decades. Horticulturalists are working to pack more flavor into the fruit that’s grown flavorless over the years. “All we’ve done between now and then was to add water to this fruit and make it bigger and bigger,” he told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud.

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Articles (5)

Transcriptional and epigenetic analysis reveals that NAC transcription factors regulate fruit flavor ester biosynthesis

The Plant Journal

Xiangmei Cao, et al.


Flavor-associated volatile chemicals make major contributions to consumers’ perception of fruits. Although great progress has been made in establishing the metabolic pathways associated with volatile synthesis, much less is known about the regulation of those pathways. Knowledge of how those pathways are regulated would greatly facilitate efforts to improve flavor.

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High-Throughput Chlorophyll and Carotenoid Profiling Reveals Positive Associations with Sugar and Apocarotenoid Volatile Content in Fruits of Tomato Varieties in Modern and Wild Accessions


Yusuke Aono, et al.


Flavor and nutritional quality has been negatively impacted during the course of domestication and improvement of the cultivated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Recent emphasis on consumers has emphasized breeding strategies that focus on flavor-associated chemicals, including sugars, acids, and aroma compounds. Carotenoids indirectly affect flavor as precursors of aroma compounds, while chlorophylls contribute to sugar production through photosynthesis.

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Domestication of Crop Metabolomes: Desired and Unintended Consequences

Trends in Plant Science

Saleh Alseekh, et al.


The majority of the crops and vegetables of today were domesticated from their wild progenitors within the past 12 000 years. Considerable research effort has been expended on characterizing the genes undergoing positive and negative selection during the processes of crop domestication and improvement.

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Sensory and chemical characteristics of tomato juice from fresh market cultivars with comparison to commercial tomato juice

Flavour and Fragrance Journal

Stephen J Koltun, et al.


Florida tomatoes are primarily produced for the fresh market and have not been widely used in processed tomato products. This study tested six Florida fresh market tomato cultivars to determine suitability for juice production. Genetic and environmental-in-duced variation was studied, and analyses identified metabolites that influenced the perceptual and hedonic responses of tomato juice.

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Identification of a lipase gene with a role in tomato fruit short-chain fatty acid-derived flavor volatiles by genome-wide association

The Plant Journal

Xiang Li, et al.


Fatty acid-derived volatile organic compounds (FA-VOCs) make significant contributions to tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruit flavor and human preferences. Short-chain FA-VOCs (C5 and C6) are among the most abundant and important volatile compounds in tomato fruits. The precursors of these volatiles, linoleic acid (18:2) and linolenic acid (18:3), are derived from cleavage of glycerolipids. However, the initial step in synthesis of these FA-VOCs has not been established.

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Cultivating the most flavorful tomatoes,  Lecture by Prof. Harry Klee, University of Florida Why Science? Plant Molecular Biology Dr. Harry Klee - UF Plant Breeding


Languages (1)

  • English