Researchers unravel tomato genome

Researchers from 14 countries have decoded the genome of the tomato, Solanum lycopersicum. It becomes an important step toward improving yield, nutrition, disease resistance, taste and colour of the tomato and other crops. The full genome sequence, as well as
the sequence of a wild relative, is jointly published recently in the journal Nature (May 31, 2012). The genome was specifically sequenced from the Heinz 1706 tomato.

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

James Giovannoni, a scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (located on Cornell University campus) and the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, leads the US tomato sequencing team, which includes researchers at several institutions. The wild tomato (Solanum pimpinellifolium) genome sequence 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 pest resistance or nutritional content, we’ve captured virtually all those genes,” says Giovannoni.

The sequences of these genes and their arrangement on the chromosomes are described in the Nature article.

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