Tomato plant yield raised by 60 per cent
Monday 29 March 2010
A hybrid tomato plant that gives a bumper crop of sweeter tomatoes has been created by scientists, by cross-breeding from two parent plants.
The hybrid produces about 60 per cent more tomatoes than the average tomato plant, and the sugar content of the fruit is also higher than normal, the scientists said. It carries a mutation in a single gene that controls the timing of flower formation.
The discovery could be applied to other valuable food crops such as potatoes, peppers and aubergines, the geneticists hope. The crop-boosting mutation is seen as a potentially valuable tool to increase global food production in the coming decades.
The scientists discovered the critical role of the florigen gene, which promotes flowering, by crossbreeding a collection of 5,000 tomato plants that had been deliberately mutated, each in a different gene. The researchers found that plants carrying one normal and one mutated florigen gene showed remarkable "hybrid vigour", with a significant boost in yield and sweetness.
Zach Lippman of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in New York, who was part of the research team, said the hybrid had just the right balance of the florigen protein to account for the extraordinary 60 per cent boost in tomato production.
"It's the Goldilocks concept. What we find is that to maximise yield, you can't have too much or too little florigen. A mutation in one copy of the gene results in the exact dose of florigen required to cause heterosis [hybrid vigour]," Dr Lippman said.
"Mutant crops are usually thrown away because of the notion that mutations would have negative effects on growth. Our results indicate that breeding with hybrid mutations could prove to be a powerful new way to increase yields, not only in tomato, but all crops," Dr Lippman added. "It is possible that farmers could achieve the same high yields as commercial hybrids by using this one gene, and would be able to grow fewer plants.
"Alternatively, farmers could achieve even greater yields than is currently possible, and have higher sugar content – which is a second major component of tomato yield.
"We are hoping to test the concept of "mutant hybrids" in other crops to see if yield can be manipulated in a similar way as we have shown in tomatoes. Crops that immediately come to mind are corn, rice, and soybean, among others," he said.
"It's hard to say now whether our discovery will impact food production and food security, but I think the point to be made is that there is untapped raw genetic material that could be exploited to achieve higher yields, not only in tomatoes, but in other crops."
The research is published in the journal Nature Genetics.
- 1 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Kim Jong-un 'purge': Six North Korea officials missing for weeks 'may have been executed'
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nathan Cirillo: Final pictures emerge of soldier moments before he was shot dead by Ottowa gunman
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...
£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...
£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...
£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...