Biotech Updates

Molecular Timer Modulates Branching Architecture in Tomato

January 6, 2012

A new study conducted at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York, USA, suggests that an increase in fruit yield happens if the molecular timer (also called maturation clock) is manipulated because it also determines the number of branches that make flowers.

"We have found that a delay in this clock causes more branching to occur in the inflorescences, which in turn results in more flowers and ultimately, more fruits," says CSHL Assistant Professor Zach Lippman, leader of the research team. They conducted high-resolution, genome-level comparison of the stem cell populations from three tomato varieties that have diverse branching architectures. "We wanted to define this clock at the highest resolution, in terms of the genes that modulate the rate of meristem maturation, with the idea that finding the genes that define the clock would enable us to tweak it to get the desired level of branching," explained Lippman.

Results of their analysis showed that the wild tomato from Peru evolved to have a slight delay in maturation, leading to development of few branches but doubled number of flowers and fruits compared to the other varieties. Using the candidate genes involved in time of maturation, the research team intends to develop domesticated tomatoes with branching architecture similar to the wild variety.

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