Biotech Updates

Scientists Compare Genomes of Wild and Domestic Tomato

July 10, 2013

Researchers from the United States, Europe, and Japan have produced the first comparison of DNA sequences between the domestic tomato and its wild cousins. They also identified which genes are expressed in the present-day tomato. According to the lead author of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the results give insight into the genetic changes involved in domestication of the crop and may help with future efforts to breed new traits into tomato or other crops.

Scientists studied the domestic tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, and wild relatives S. pennellii, S. habrochaites and S. pimpinellifolium. Comparison of the plants' genomes shows the effects of evolutionary bottlenecks, for example at the original domestication in South America, and later when tomatoes were brought to Europe for cultivation. Among other findings, genes associated with fruit color showed rapid evolution among domesticated, red-fruited tomatoes and green-fruited wild relatives. The crop S. pennellii, which lives in desert habitats, had accelerated evolution in genes related to tolerance to drought, heat, and salt.

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