Davis, Calif.-based Arcadia Biosciences Inc. has received a U.S. patent on a non-transgenic modification to a gene in tomato plants that slows post-harvest ripening.

Worldwide, an estimated 10 percent to 35 percent of tomatoes are lost to post-harvest spoilage, according to a news release.

Using a non-GMO advanced screening and breeding technique called "Tilling," Arcadia selected tomato lines with altered function of the non-ripening gene.

This results in "extended shelflife or ESL" tomatoes that retain the desirable qualities of vine-ripened fruit but are resistant to rapid post-harvest softening.

Other modifications of the non-ripening gene are available, but they can adversely affect tomato flavor because the effects are too severe, according to the release.

The firm's extended-shelflife technology was developed in part under a U.S. Department of Defense contract to find longer-lasting fresh produce for field troops.