Brad Townsley/UC Davis
You say tomato, I say comparative transcriptomics. Researchers in the U.S., Europe and Japan have produced the first comparison of both the DNA sequences and which genes are active, or being transcribed, between the domestic tomato and its wild cousins.
The results give insight into the genetic changes involved in domestication and may help with future efforts to breed new traits into tomato or other crops, said Julin Maloof…senior author on the study.
For example, breeding new traits into tomatoes often involves crossing them with wild relatives. The new study shows that a large block of genes from one species of wild tomato is present in domestic tomato, and has widespread, unexpected effects across the whole genome…
Among other findings, genes associated with fruit color showed rapid evolution among domesticated, red-fruited tomatoes and green-fruited wild relatives. And S. pennellii, which lives in desert habitats, had accelerated evolution in genes related to drought tolerance, heat and salinity…
New technology is giving biologists the unprecedented ability to look at all the genes in an organism, not just a select handful. The researchers studied not just the plants’ DNA but also the messenger RNA being transcribed from different genes. RNA transcription is the process that transforms information in genes into action. If the DNA sequence is the list of parts for making a tomato plant, the messenger RNA transcripts are the step-by-step instructions…
“We could not have done a study like this ten years ago — certainly not on any kind of reasonable budget,” Maloof said. “It opens up a lot of new things we can do as plant scientists.”
Bravo! Like anyone who has Mediterranean genes – and cooking – in their life, I have an inordinate interest in tomatoes.
I grew up in a New England factory town with tomatoes in the backyard garden. I live in the high desert country of New Mexico with tomatoes in our courtyard garden. I cook with fresh, dried, canned and whatever kind of tomatoes I can get hold of any time of the year.
They’re all delicious and all good for me – as far as I’m concerned.