Tomato genome fully sequenced

May 30, 2012

For the first time, the genome of the tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, has been decoded, and it becomes an important step toward improving yield, nutrition, disease resistance, taste and color of the tomato and other crops. The full genome sequence, as well as the sequence of a wild relative, is jointly published in the latest issue of the journal Nature (May 31, 2012).

Specifically, the genome was sequenced from the "Heinz 1706" tomato.

The publication caps years of work by members of the Tomato Genomics Consortium, an between Argentina, Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, United States and others.

James Giovannoni, a scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, located on the campus of Cornell University, and the U.S. , lead the U.S. tomato sequencing team, which includes researchers at several institutions. The wild tomato (Solanum pimpinellifolium) was developed at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Consortium researchers report that tomatoes possess some 35,000 genes arranged on 12 chromosomes. "For any characteristic of the tomato, whether it's taste, natural or , we've captured virtually all those genes," says Giovannoni.

The sequences of these genes and their arrangement on the are described in the Nature article, "The tomato genome sequence provides insights into fleshy fruit evolution," which is information that allows researchers to move at a quicker pace and plant breeders to produce new varieties with specific desired characteristics.

"Tomato genetics underlies the potential for improved taste every home gardener knows and every supermarket shopper desires and the genome sequence will help solve this and many other issues in tomato production and quality," says Giovannoni.

Now that the genome sequence of one variety of tomato is known, it will also be easier and much less expensive for seed companies and plant breeders to sequence other varieties for research and development, he added. Whereas the first tomato genome sequence came at a cost of millions of dollars, subsequent ones might only cost $10,000 or less, by building on these initial findings.

To provide access to the gene sequences of the tomato and related species, Boyce Thompson Institute scientist Lukas Mueller and his team have created an interactive website (www.solgenomics.net). In the United States, Boyce Thompson Institute scientists Zhangjun Fei and Joyce Van Eck contributed to the sequence and its analysis. Other U.S. institutions involved: Cornell University, Colorado State, University of Florida, University of Oklahoma, University of Georgia, University of Arizona, University of Delaware, Montana State, University of Tennessee, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the USDA.

The sequencing of the tomato genome has implications for other plant species. Strawberries, apples, melons, bananas and many other fleshy fruits, share some characteristics with tomatoes, so information about the genes and pathways involved in fruit ripening can potentially be applied to them, helping to improve food quality, food security and reduce costs.

"Now we can start asking a lot more interesting questions about fruit biology, disease resistance, root development and nutritional qualities," Giovannoni says. Tomatoes represent a $2 billion market in the United States alone. The USDA estimates that Americans consume, on average, more than 72 pounds of tomato products annually.

The sequencing would not have been possible without the work of Cornell's Steven Tanksley and Boyce Thompson's Greg Martin in the 1990s. Tanksley, Martin and other Ithaca scientists developed genetic maps and other molecular tools for tomatoes to study mechanisms of , and those tools ultimately paved the way for the consortium's sequencing efforts.

Explore further: First sex determining genes appeared in mammals 180 million years ago

More information: The tomato Genome Concortium; Tomato genome sequencing and comparative analysis reveal two consecutive triplications that spawned genes influencing fruit characteristics, Nature, 2012.

The genome sequence and related resources can be accessed at the Solgenomics website.

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kaasinees
1.8 / 5 (5) May 30, 2012
aww crap not tomatoes ... :(
casualjoe
3.7 / 5 (6) May 30, 2012
I think a lot of the fear regarding GM foods comes from a lack of knowledge of biochemistry. Once you realise that gene modification happens naturally over time, you can begin to see work described in the above article as a real hope for sustaining a growing population who currently rely on diminishing fossil fuel reserves to produce our food.
mezmama
2 / 5 (4) May 30, 2012
I wonder how much money was invested by Monsanto to gain this information. What most people do not realize is that most tomatoes and tomato seed are GMO (genetically modified) and companies such as Monsanto have monopolies on the seed as well as the chemicals used to grow said tomatoes. GMO food does not need to be labeled per FDA rules. GMO food changes the genome as well as the methylation of the organism. We know that methylation changes the expression of genes. We are what we eat. We do not know how the change in methylation of foodstuff changes our systems or the systems of our future generations.
Alcedine
5 / 5 (4) May 30, 2012
We are what we eat.

Not to the extent you imply. What we eat gets lysed before it interacts with us, barring specific cases like celiac (and even then, it doesn't affect our genome).

The biggest reason to be wary of GMOs is poorly predictable ecological implications. Those are there even when transplanting existing species from place to place, though.
Terriva
1 / 5 (2) May 30, 2012
IMO the GMO are relatively harmless, until their properties cannot spread into the wild. But the GMO with genes, which are giving them resistance against pets or herbicides do affect the other plants with both vertical both horizontal gene transfer. In addition, the toxic GMO plants may contaminate the wide areas with their pollens. It has two consequences: for pests this concentration is low, so it can develop resistance faster. For another organisms (bees and bats) it may serve as an allergen and it can increase their mortality instead. The supposed mechanism of allergization of bees with GMO pollens is described here. Therefore the GMO may be a good servant but a bad master.
BikeToAustralia
5 / 5 (2) May 30, 2012
IMO we are not humble enough.

We, the ones with the ability to put the 'glow-in-the-dark' genetic code from a jellyfish into other animals, think since we have the technology, we can make it better. We are not so wise as to see the consequences. I think it is essential to experiment and research. We are a curious race. But, we need to do more research before we create a new life-form and let the cat out of the bag - it does not go back in, ever.

We, every living thing on the planet, will be lucky to survive the genetic modification learning curve. I hope humanity migrates into space and does our really serious research in isolation. There, 'go boom' will give the rest of us a laugh instead of give us a mass extinction event.

We just do not know enough to play it safe enough.
Bog_Mire
5 / 5 (1) May 31, 2012
a big step closer to Tomacco.
CWonPhysOrg
not rated yet Jun 03, 2012
I sure hope they sequenced a tomato that tastes good, not like cardboard ... like the ones we usually get in the grocery store.

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