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Genetic discovery points the way to much bigger yields in tomato, other flowering food plants
Date:12/26/2013

he mutation dramatically increases tomato yields in bush tomatoes, and Lippman and his team, led by postdoctoral researcher Ke Jiang, set out to understand the mechanism behind this remarkable result.

They found that bushy plants with a mutation in one of the two copies of the florigen gene, producing half as much florigen as plants without the mutation do, postpone the moment when they stop producing flowers. This, in turn, leads to many more fruits overall. "This is because," Lippman explains, "bushy tomato varieties are highly sensitive to the amount, or dosage, of the florigen hormone, which alters plant architecture that is, how many flowers can form before growth ends. These discoveries lead to an exciting prediction: that it may be possible to tweak florigen levels to increase yields even further."

Lippman's team also studied florigen mutants in another plant, the crucifer weed known as Arabidopsis that is a cousin of crops like broccoli and cauliflower. Although they did not see the same increase in yield, they did observe similar changes in plant architecture because of florigen dosage sensitivities. These results suggest that it may be possible to manipulate florigen in a wide variety of flowering species to increase yields.


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Contact: Jaclyn Jansen
jjansen@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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