Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What is insight the tomato? Breeding has had influenced the chemical composition of tomato fruits

19.02.2018

Plant cultivation and breeding was the foundation of humans’ sedentary lifestyle. But how did the human influence affect plants and their chemical constitution? Researchers from China, USA, Bulgaria and Germany, among them is Alisdair Fernie of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP) in Potsdam, Germany, asked themselves this question and chose tomato for their detailed analyses. The aim of their work was to gain new insights into breeding and their consequences. The researchers analysed the metabolic constitution and the genetic background of the fruits. They published an overview about the human influence on the chemical composition of a crop for the first time.

Tomatoes and their wild relatives


Colourful mixture - Tomato breeding offers a wide variety

MPI-MP, S. Osorio Algar

Originally, tomatoes are from South- and Middle-America, where the Mayas cultivated them. The origin of their wild relatives is located in the Andes. Here, wild tomatoes have small and partly bitter-tasting or even toxic berries. Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which includes foods as potato and pepper, as well as toxic plants as belladonna.

So-called alkaloids are responsible for the bitter tasting/toxic compounds. The plant uses them to protect themselves against herbivores and pathogens. In the course of domestication and by modern breeding programs, the bitter tasting compounds of the tomato were reduced and larger fruits were selected.

Challenges in breeding

Genetic inheritance is a complex process and breeding of plants with respect to favored characteristics is a difficult exercise. The reason is that characteristics, as fruit size are influenced by more than one gene. Moreover, different versions of one gene can exist in one living organism. This is comparable to the variety of written forms of one sound.

For example, be, eat and see are written differently, but the letters e, ea and ee sound similar in these words. That is how the DNA code of genes can be written differently, which results in a variable characteristic value. In addition, the qualitative nature of characteristics is not only influenced by genes and their different versions, but also by environmental conditions.

New methods in plant research allow deeper analysis of breeding results

Staying with tomato, one can easily imagine that breeding of larger fruits has to be coupled to other changes in the plant. Not only an increase in fruit size by increasing cell number had to be implemented during the breeding process but also the chemical composition is adapted via the accumulation of higher amounts of metabolites or even with production of new compounds. As such, the enlargement of fruits has to be coupled to changes at the genomic level, including the DNA code, its transcription and translation into (metabolic) processes.

Modern techniques and analysis methods give the opportunity to study plants at different levels. Actually, that is what the research team has done in the current study. “We have analyzed and compared the genetic and metabolic composition of up to 610 tomatoes of different origin”, explains Alisdair Fernie.

The comparison of wild and cultivated tomatoes is decisive here, because small berry-like fruits of the wild species were transformed into red tomatoes, which were nearly hundred times larger. The breeding process passed through two main stages. First, the plants were domesticated and secondly, they were improved. The researchers found that these two phases seemed to have had a different influence on the chemical composition of the fruit.

Genes in the piggyback

With the help of comprehensive genome and metabolite analyses, the research team could show that the breeding phase to improve the plant had a stronger influence on the metabolite content. “We found two different selection mechanisms in this breeding phase. On one hand, the taste was bred directly, as fruits with less bitter taste were selected. Moreover, we found that fruit size is strongly associated with metabolites. In this manner, the taste was bred indirectly by selecting larger fruits”, Alisdair Fernie says.

It appears that the respective genes of the metabolism “hitchhike”! They are coupled to the genes responsible for fruit size and thus are genetically inherited together. Here, the researchers have excluded a direct influence of the fruit size genes on the metabolites. Therefore, it seems to be coincidental rather than the result of directed breeding that larger fruits contain better tasting metabolites.

Understanding of control mechanisms, improvement of breeding programs

The diverse data obtained give insights into the variation of the metabolism and its genetic and biochemical control mechanisms. The knowledge currently available about the chemical composition of tomatoes and their molecular biological relations could lead to an improvement of the fruit quality with corresponding breeding programs. Moreover, these data can be used in further detailed studies to analyze control mechanisms of tomato metabolism.

Contact
Prof. Dr. Alisdair Fernie
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology
Tel. 0331/567 8211
fernie@mpimp-golm.mpg.de

Dr. Ulrike Glaubitz
Public Relations
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Planz Physiology
Tel. 0331/567 8275
glaubitz@mpimp-golm.mpg.de
http://www.mpimp-golm.mpg.de

Original Publication
Guangtao Zhu, Shouchuang Wang, Zejun Huang, Shuaibin Zhang, Qinggang Liao, Chunzhi Zhang, Tao Lin, Mao Qin, Meng Peng, Chenkun Yang, Xue Cao, Xu Han, Xiaoxuan Wang, Esther van der Knaap, Zhonghua Zhang, Xia Cui, Harry Klee, Alisdair R. Fernie, Jie Luo, Sanwen Huang (2018).
Rewiring of the Fruit Metabolome in Tomato Breeding.
Cell, Volume 172, Issue 1, 249 - 261.e12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.019

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpimp-golm.mpg.de/2197812/tomateninhaltsstoffe

Dr. Ulrike Glaubitz | Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells
12.12.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Smelling the forest – not the trees
12.12.2018 | Universität Konstanz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>