Identifying genes to help fruit adapt to droughts

Identifying genes to help fruit adapt to droughts

Researchers from the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) and Cornell University have completed the first study that provides a comprehensive picture of changes in gene expression in response to water stress in tomatoes and identified genes that could help plant breeders develop fruit that can cope with drought conditions.

Led by BTI Assistant Professor Carmen Catalá, who is also a research associate in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell and Philippe Nicolas, a postdoctoral researcher in Catalá’s lab, the team identified a number of genes that are involved in water stress response in tomatoes.

“We can now begin to select candidate genes that could help breeders develop fruit that can adapt to drought conditions, and not just tomatoes but also grapes, apples, and fleshy fruit in general,” said Catalá.

The research team looked at gene expression in tomato leaves and six fruit organs, including pericarp, placenta, septum, columella, jelly, and seeds, at two different periods (growing and ripe fruit) and under four different water stress conditions (none, mild, intermediate, and strong).

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