Biotech Updates

Production of Sweeter Tomato Fruits by Expression of a Transcription Factor Gene

October 7, 2015

Enhancement of sugar content and sweetness is desirable in some vegetables and most fruits. However, biotechnological methods to increase sugar content are limited. The research team led by G. H. M. Sagor of Tohoku University in Japan introduced a completely novel approach to produce sweeter tomato fruits with no negative effects on plant growth.

Sucrose-induced repression of translation (SIRT), which is mediated by upstream open reading frames (uORFs), was initially reported in Arabidopsis AtbZIP11. Two AtbZIP11 genes, SlbZIP1 and SlbZIP2, containing uORFs, were identified in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum).

Tomato plants were then transformed with SlbZIP1 and SlbZIP2, without the SIRT-responsive uORFs. Growth and morphology of the transgenic tomatoes were comparable to wild-type plants. However, the transgenic fruits were significantly higher in sugar content than wild types. In addition, the levels of several amino acids were also higher in transgenic fruits.

For more information, the article is available in Plant Biotechnology Journal.