Researchers Find Genetic Mechanism for Controlling the Shape of Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains
Scientists from the University of Georgia discovered a genetic mechanism
that governs the shape of fruits, vegetables, and grains. The results of the
study are published in Nature Communications.
"We may be able to explain the shapes of many fruits and vegetables through
a similar mechanism to the one we described in tomatoes," said Esther van
der Knaap, professor of horticulture and leader of the study. "We found that
in tomatoes, plant cells in the fruit divide in a column or in a row and
that will determine their shape," van der Knaap said. "We also found that
this mechanism is likely the same in several other plant species: melons,
cucumbers, potatoes. We've even been able to go as far as finding that the
same mechanism controls the shape of rice grains as well as leaves."
In her previous study, van der Knaap and team found that the genetic
sequences responsible for controlling cell division or cell size. Each of
the genes gives a hint about how the fruits are formed wherein some affect
the size and shape of the fruit at the later stages of development, just
before the fruit is ripening, while the others affect the shape and size
much earlier even before flowering.
In her latest study, van der Knaap found similar sets of shape-control genes
in other plants. In potato, the gene that controls the tuber shape is found
in the same location in the genome as the gene that controls tomato fruit
shape. In other plants, the shape-control genes may not in the same place,
but it is perceived they act in the same manner, controlling the horizontal
or vertical structure in cell division.
The findings about genetic control of shape are vital not just for plant
breeders, but also for better understanding of plant evolution and