Tomato is a nutritious and economically important crop that depends on shelf
life as a marketable quality. The shelf life of tomato is affected by
softening, which is important in ripening, flavor development, fruit
storage, and transportability of the crop. Softening is dictated by changes
in cuticle and cell wall characteristics. To investigate the molecular basis
of this trait in tomato, researcher Duoduo Wang from University of
Nottingham in the United Kingdom and colleagues used CRISPR-Cas9 to edit
genes PL, PG2a, and TBG4, which are all related to fruit ripening in tomato.
Results showed that plants that have mutation in the PL gene have firmer
characteristic, whereas plants that have mutation in PG2a and TBG4 have
modified fruit color and weight. The researchers also found that these three
genes are acting on different locations in the cell walls. The study further
clarifies the roles of these genes in tomato ripening and may serve as basis
for future modification of tomato towards longer shelf life.