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Comparing genomes of wild and domestic tomato

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Posted June 27, 2013
Researchers can now compare not only the genomes, but all the genes expressed, by domestic and wild tomatoes. L to R: Solanum lycopersicum, and wild relatives S. pimpinellifolium, S. habrochaites and S. pennellii. Credit: Brad Townsley, UC Davis.

Researchers can now compare not only the genomes, but all the genes expressed, by domestic and wild tomatoes. L to R: Solanum lycopersicum, and wild relatives S. pimpinellifolium, S. habrochaites and S. pennellii. Credit: 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, professor of plant biology in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Davis. Maloof is senior author on the study, published June 24 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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.

Maloof and colleagues studied the domestic tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, and wild relatives S. pennelliiS. habrochaites and S. pimpinellifolium. Comparison of the plants’ genomes shows the effects of evolutionary bottlenecks, Maloof noted—for example at the original domestication in South America, and later when tomatoes were brought to Europe for cultivation.

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.

Read more at: Phys.org

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