Sequencing tomato genome could help breeders

05/31/2012 01:11:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

tomatoesVicky BoydAn international group of scientists for the first time has mapped the tomato genome, which should help breeders develop higher yielding, more nutritious and tastier tomatoes.

They published their work in the May 31 issue of the journal Nature, according to a news release.

The collaborative effort—the Tomato Genomics Consortium—worked on the Heinz 1706 variety.

In addition, they sequenced a wild relative, Solanum pimpinellifolium.

The tomato has 35,000 genes arranged on 12 chromosomes.

"For any characteristic of the tomato, whether it's taste, natural pest resistance or nutritional content, we've captured virtually all those genes," James Giovannoni, a scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research on the Cornell University Campus in Ithaca, N.Y., said in the release.

Giovannoni led the U.S. tomato sequencing team, which included researchers from nine universities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) Laboratory, where the wild tomato genome was sequenced.

Also involved were collaborators from Argentina, Belgium, China, France, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Now that the researchers have sequenced one tomato variety, it will be faster and less expensive to sequence other varieties.

In addition, tomatoes share some traits with other fleshy fruits.

So information about genes and the traits they're tied to in tomatoes can potentially be applied to other fruits, such as strawberries, apples, melons and bananas.



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