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The 21st century tomato
Date:6/27/2008

nightshade family, which also includes potato, eggplant, tobacco, and chili peppers. The center of origin and diversity of tomato species is in the northern Andes, where endemic populations of wild tomato species still grow. These wild populations represent considerable genetic diversity, whereas cultivated tomatoes are genetically very narrow. The Tomato Genome Consortium is an international collaboration that is sequencing, mapping and analyzing the genomes of both wild and cultivated varieties. Carrari and his co-workers, as well as other scientists, have begun to make use of this wealth of sequence data in functional and metabolic analyses of tomato and other crops.

Plants produce an immense variety of chemical compounds for growth, metabolism, signaling, defense, and reproduction. These metabolites function in complex networks and pathways in which they regulate and are regulated by parallel networks of genes. It is not possible to realistically model these metabolic systems one compound or gene at a time. Moreover, many, if not most traits in tomato, are not the result of one gene, but of many genes located together in chromosomal regions called quantitative trait loci (QTLs), because they produce a range of values in fruit or plant size or color, rather than just two extremes. Thus metabolites, enzymes, and genes must be analyzed simultaneously and in parallel in order to capture their dynamic relationships. To accomplish this, Carrari and his colleagues made use of the high genetic diversity of an ancestral tomato species, Solanum pennellii.

Through crosses, chromosomal segments of S. pennellii were introgressed into the genome of the cultivar Solanum lycopersicum var. Roma. Different lines of the cultivar were then created that differed only in the chromosomal segment received from the wild species. In this way, over 1200 metabolic QTLs or quantitative metabolic loci (QMLs) were identified and analyzed. Almost 900 of th
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Contact: Dr. Jim Giovannoni
jjg33@cornell.edu
607-255-1414
American Society of Plant Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

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