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Wild Tomato Gene Key to Creating Pest-Resistant Tomatoes
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: May 11, 2019 07:42AM

Researchers from Michigan State University have identified an evolutionary
function in wild tomato plants that could be used in developing modern
pest-resistant tomatoes.

The study traced the evolution of a specific gene that produces a sticky
compound in the tips of the trichomes, or hairs, on the Solanum pennellii
plant found in the Atacama desert of Peru. The sticky hairs act as natural
insect repellants to protect the plant and help ensure its survival and
reproduction. The gene exists in the wild plant, but not in cultivated
tomatoes as this defensive trait may have been removed by breeders

The team used genetic and genomic approaches, including theCRISPR
gene-editing technology, to the wild tomato plant to discover the functions
of specific genes, metabolites and pathways. The team was able to identify
an invertase-like enzyme specific to the cells at the tips of the sticky
hairs. Invertases regulate many aspects of growth and development in plants.
In the wild tomato, the enzyme evolved to facilitate the production of new
insecticidal compounds.


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