Biotech Updates

Natural Tomato Mutation Found to be Related to BER Resistance

July 19, 2023

Carmen Catalá and Philippe Nicolas, researchers at Boyce Thompson Institute, examine a tomato plant. (Photo from Boyce Thompson Institute news release)

Scientists finally uncovered the mechanism behind the mutation in tomato that causes the plant's inability to sense gravity. But more interestingly, the mutated tomatoes, known as adpressa, were also found to be completely resistant to the disease known as blossom-end rot (BER).

The scientific team led by experts from the Boyce Thompson Institute uncovered the precise genetic change in adpressa tomatoes, in which mutation blocks the synthesis of starch. Specifically, adpressa tomatoes show major transcriptional and metabolic adjustments which includes increased levels of soluble sugars and enhanced growth. Further analysis also found that the mutant plants are resistant to BER, a plant disorder that causes deterioration of fruit cell membranes leading to black, sunken bottom of tomato fruits. They are now focusing on determining the target tomato genes or compounds responsible for it.

The new information provides opportunities for researchers to engineer or breed tomatoes with improved fruit yield and quality while withstanding stressful environmental conditions.

Learn more from Boyce Thompson Institute and Journal of Experimental Botany.

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