Biotech Updates

Scientists Sequence the Tomato Genome

June 1, 2012

The tomato genome has been fully sequenced for the first time, reports the Tomato Genomics Consortium in the latest issue of the journal Nature capping years of research work. The Consortium has sequenced the genome of the domesticated tomato from the cultivar "Heinz 1706", and details that tomatoes possess some 35,000 genes arranged on 12 chromosomes. The result of their work is an important step toward improving the yield, nutrition, disease resistance, taste and color of tomato as well as other crops.

James Giovannoni, a scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Cornell University and the USDA Agricultural Research Service leads the U.S. team. He said that "For any characteristic of the tomato, whether it's taste, natural pest resistance or nutritional content, we've captured virtually all those genes." He added that it will now be easier and less expensive for seed companies and plant breeders to sequence other varieties for research and development. To provide access to the gene sequences of tomato and related species, an interactive website called was created by Boyce Thomson Institute scientist Lukas Mueller and his team.

The sequencing of the tomato genome has implications for other plant species, especially fleshy fruits such as strawberries, apples, melons, and bananas as they share some characteristics with tomatoes. Information about the genes and pathways involved in fruit ripening can potentially be applied to these crops to improve their quality.

The Tomato Genomics Consortium is an international group of scientists from Argentina, Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.

The news release is available at The Nature article is available at