Breeders have always questioned how a fruit ripens. An extensive and
fruitful collaboration between Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), Cornell
University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has produced a
spatiotemporal map of gene expression across all tissues and developmental
stages of the tomato fruit - the genetic information underlying how a fruit
changes from inside to out as it ripens. Their data is available online in
the new Tomato Expression Atlas (TEA).
The researchers carefully dissected the tomato tissues by hand and with
laser capture microdissection to isolate and sequence RNA, the genetic
material that makes each tissue distinct, from individual tissues and even
cells. The sequence data were then compiled, parsed, and organized into the
TEA, where it can be analyzed to investigate the various biological
processes important for fruit development.
The clearer image of the biological processes underlying the development of
the tomato fruit will help researchers to quickly identify the genetic basis
for the many important traits that are valuable in tomatoes and other