Lycopene Levels Experiment

Author: Verity Cheslo. 


    This project will determine which tomato breed: Cherry Sweet 101, Black Krim, Big Beef, or Bradley, will produce the most lycopene after reaching maturity, the researcher is not limited to these breeds but if you do not wish to use these breeds keep in mind that your results might differ dramatically. 

      This project is being conducted because the antioxidants that are found in lycopene. These antioxidants help prevent heart diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, and help skin stay healthy and clear. The properties found in lycopene cannot be made by the human body. Tomatoes are one of the most common fruits to possess lycopene. The project hopes to determine which of four common gardening tomatoes possesses the most amount of lycopene. People who are looking to eat tomatoes for the lycopene will know which tomatoes will give them the best benefits. 

      List of Materials

  Gardening Tools

3  Black Krim Heirloom Tomato plants, fruit size: medium, vine type: indeterminate from Bonnie Plants company. This tomato was picked for its extreme dark red color.

3 Super Sweet 100 Hybrid Cherry Tomatoes, fruit size: small, vine type: intdeterminate.  from Bonnie Plants company. This tomato was picked for its popularity in salads.

3 Bradley Tomato Heirloom plants, fruit size: medium, vine type: indeterminate from Bonnie Plants company. This tomato was picked for its pink color.

3 Big Beef Hybrid Tomatoes plants, fruit size: large, vine type: indeterminate. from Bonnie Plants company. This tomato was picked for its popularity in salads.


12, 16.7 inch self watering planters from MainStays.

12 medium sized tomato cages from Walmart.

1  food processor by proctor silex model 72500


1 Sagittarius electronic balance accurate to 1/100th of a gram

1 vegetable strainer


1 pipette


1 Intel Core i3 Gateway laptop, with Windows 7      64 bit

1 Educational Colorimeter Kit from IO Rodeo
1 Preprogrammed Arduino Board programmed for experiment by IO  Rodeo.
1 USB Cable

Keep in mind that the food processors, laptop and balance can be different brands, the brands listed were what was available when conducting this experiment. 


1. Assemble the Colorimeter kit. This should take roughly twenty minutes.

2. Once the tomatoes have reached full maturity harvest tomatoes from each plant but make sure that they are labeled as to what plant number they came from.

3.Weigh tomato and then puree for 1 minute on high in the proctor silex food processor.

4. Strain tomato pulp from the juice using a vegetable strainer. Place the pulp in one container and juice in another.


5. Weigh the amount of pulp and amount of juice to see how much of the tomato was lost during the process.


6. Fill colorimeter cuvette with 1 ml of water using the pipette.


7. Squeeze one drop of the tomato juice into the cuvette and blend the juice and water using your pipette.

8. Enter the com port on the computer in the colorimeter program. Choose  basic program.

9. Calibrate the colorimeter using another cuvvete filled with water only.

10. Insert cuvette with the tomato mixture into the colorimeter and press measure. A window should open with a plot showing the absorbency. Another window should open with a chart stating the transmittance.


Photos of Experiment Process



This data was formatted using the data analysis program MiniTab. In order to find out which tomato has the most lycopene the researcher only needs the mean (average) of the blue absorbancy rate for each tomato. This can be found and put in a simple bar graph using Microsoft Office Excel 2007


          It was expected that the Black Krims would have the highest amount of lycopene because of their deep red almost purple like color, however this hypothesis was wrong. The reason why being that tomatoes have the white, green, and red colors in them. When the red, green, and white lights were flashed on the concentration the tomato would have absorbed very little of these colors but, there is very little blue in a tomato, the concentration would have absorbed a lot more of the blue light. The tomato that absorbed the most blue light would have more red pigmentation, meaning that breed would have the most lycopene. Black Krims are a very dark red, but they have a very purple hue. Purple is a combination of red and blue, so there would be some blue pigments mixed into the tomato, meaning less red pigmentation from the lycopene.

     There are some possible errors that could have affected this project. First all of the tomatoes were home grown, unfortunately they did not get normal soil they were accidentally planted completely in a plant food mix that was supposed to be mixed with regular soil.  An observation that may have been a problem is that the Black Krims had a very pungent odor. If this experiment is conducted again, having more plants in a controlled green house would probably give data that is more stable.







   The hypothesis is wrong, Cherry Sweet 101 Hybrid Tomatoes have the most lycopene.