Friday, December 7, 2018
Gene that makes large, plump tomatoes identified
Like majority of fruits, tomatoes were wild and not what we have in our markets today. The ancestors of the tomatoes we know today were more similar to what we know as the cherry tomato. Humans first began picking tomatoes from the wild in the Andean mountain regions of Ecuador and Northern Peru. They tended to pick the larger tomatoes. Over the years (thousands of years) tomatoes are a 1,000 times heavier than their ancestors. The questioned asked is what gene causes this? There is a gene named Cell Size Regulator (CSR), and this gene boosts fruit weight by increasing size of the fleshy part of the tomato. Researchers investigated this gene and found that in domesticated species of tomatoes carry a mutation in the CSR gene, which shortens the resulting protein and maturation in the cells. This is thought to be the cause in variation of cultivated tomatoes. This research stems from prior research that just studied where the CSR gene was located. To be able to see the mutation the researchers cloned the gene. By doing this they could see that cultivated contained the shorten version of the CSR gene. with the cultivated containing the shortened version this suggests that humans selected a specific type while picking the tomatoes from the wild which was critical to the domestication of the tomato we know today from its cherry tomato ancestors. I think this is very informative information to know to be able to get a type of glimpse in to the past. This research is just beginning and the more that is done the more we can learn by looking at genetics of different fruit and vegetables.