Crop scientists discover Gene that controls fruit shape

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Washington, Mar 18 (UNI) Crop scientists have cloned a gene that controls the shape of tomatoes.

"The gene, SUN, is only the second ever found to play a significant role in the elongated shape of various tomato varieties", said Esther van der Knaap, lead researcher and assistant professor of Horticulture at Ohio State University quoted as saying in the Science Daily.

One of the most diverse vegetable crops in terms of shape and size variations, tomatoes have evolved from a very small, round wild ancestor into the wide array of cultivated varieties large and segmented, pear-shaped, and oval.

"After looking at the entire collection of tomato germplasm there were some varieties that had very elongated fruit shape," van der Knaap explained. "By genetic analysis, we narrowed down the region of the genome that controls this very elongated fruit shape, and eventually narrowed down that region to a smaller section that we could sequence to find what kind of genes were present at that location.

Once SUN was identified, the next step involved proving whether this gene was actually responsible for causing changes in fruit shape.

Van Der Knaap and her team conducted several plant-transformation experiments. When the SUN gene was introduced into wild, round fruit-bearing tomato plants, they ended up producing extremely elongated fruit.

When the gene was "knocked out" of elongated fruit-bearing plants, they produced round fruit similar to the wild tomatoes.

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