Anyway you slice it, tomatoes cut through drought with new gene

December 13, 2005

New tomato research has its roots in yielding more food to feed more people, according to Dr. Kendal Hirschi about results announced today.

His team's study appears in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team made tomato plants over-express the gene, AVP1, which resulted in stronger, larger root systems and that resulted in roots making better use of limited water, said Hirschi, a researcher at Texas A&M University's Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center and Baylor's College of Medicine.

"The gene gave us a better root system, and the root system could then take the adjustment to drought stress better and thus grow better," Hirschi said of the paper which details "a strategy to engineer drought-resistant crop plants."

For example, regular or control tomatoes used in the experiment suffered irreversible damage after five days without water, as opposed to the transgenic tomatoes, which began to show signs of damage after 13 days but rebounded completely as soon as they were watered, according to the study.

"This technology could ultimately be applied to all crops because it involves the over-expression of a gene found in all plants," said Dr. Roberto Gaxiola, a plant biologist at the University of Connecticut and the lead author of the study. "It has the potential to revolutionize agriculture and improve food production worldwide by addressing an increasing global concern: water scarcity."

Gaxiola's findings regarding the use of AVP1 in Arabidopsis to create hardier, more drought resistant plants were published in the journal Science in October, but the study described in the proceedings marks the first time the enhanced gene has been inserted in a commercially viable crop, he said.

The paper notes that drought conditions throughout the world each year carve out a huge amount of food production.

To overcome food shortages, the authors suggest, "it will be necessary to increase the productivity of land already under cultivation and to regain the use of arable land lost to scarce water supplies."

Hirschi and Gaxiola worked with Dr. Sunghun Park, also of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center.

"Our center is good at moving genes into the different plants," Hirschi said. "Dr. Park's job was to move this gene into the tomato."

Hirschi, who's main research focus is "boosting nutrients in plants to make them more nutritional for children," said the study now may be tried on other crops. Gaxiola said he already has additional studies under way to demonstrate how this technology applies to other commercial crops.
-end-
More information on this study can be found at http://www.pnas.org/.

Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

Related Tomato Articles from Brightsurf:

Mutant tomato helps to crack the secrets of fruiting
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have found that fruit development in tomatoes rewires their central metabolism.

Tomato's hidden mutations revealed in study of 100 varieties
A new analysis of difficult-to-access genetic variation is the most comprehensive ever conducted in plants.

New dataset helps tomato growers reduce spread of bacterial canker
A group of plant pathologists, primarily based at the University of California, Davis, became interested in studying Clavibacter when extension agents brought in diseased samples.

Wild tomato resistance to bacterial canker has implications for commercial tomato industry
Bacterial canker is caused by the pathogen Clavibacter michiganensis, which infects commercially bred tomatoes by colonizing the xylem, a series of tubes that transports water and minerals throughout the plant.

Nitrogen fertilizers finetune composition of individual members of the tomato microbiota
Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients as is a key component for healthy crop production globally.

Research team traces evolution of the domesticated tomato
In a new paper, a team of evolutionary biologists and geneticists led by senior author associate professor Ana Caicedo, with first author Hamid Razifard at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and others, report that they have identified missing links in the tomato's evolution from a wild blueberry-sized fruit in South America to the larger modern tomato of today.

Evolution on the vine: A history of tomato domestication in Latin America
A new study funded by the US National Science Foundation, published in the Advance Access edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution, has revealed and confirmed the history of tomatoes from South America, from once blueberry-sized to the large fruits of today.

A new tomato ideal for urban gardens and even outer space
Genetic editing is moving tomato crops from the field to the city skyline, or even outer space.

Meatballs might wreck the anti-cancer perks of tomato sauce
Some of the anti-cancer benefits of tomatoes, specifically those from a compound called lycopene, could disappear when they're eaten with iron-rich foods, according to a new study from The Ohio State University.

Harnessing tomato jumping genes could help speed-breed drought-resistant crops
Once dismissed as 'junk DNA' that served no purpose, a family of 'jumping genes' found in tomatoes has the potential to accelerate crop breeding for traits such as improved drought resistance.

Read More: Tomato News and Tomato Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.