COLUMBIA, Mo. — The tiny tomatoes Prof. Vic Lambeth grows in test tubes are a bit strange. They have no leaves, stems or roots and are grown in a gelatin-like substance instead of soil.
Lambeth, a researcher at the University of Missouri, began the project two years ago and produced his first tomato last fall.
His purpose is not to grow a bigger and better tomato in his laboratory, but to use genetic manipulation to produce a better plant for breeding purposes.
The cherry-size tomatoes appear to float on the jellylike substance called agar. The agar, used in tissue culture, has everything the fruit needs, including minerals, vitamins, hormones and a source of carbon that furnishes energy.