A survey of cultivated heirloom tomato varieties identifies four new mutant alleles at the green-flesh locus
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The process of crop domestication occurs through the selection and subsequent propagation of novel alleles that improve traits of interest. Cultivated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), particularly heirloom varieties, exhibit a wide range of variation in fruit size, shape and color. The green-flesh mutant of tomato possesses a stay-green phenotype resulting in fruits that ripen to a red-brown color, due to the retention of chlorophyll and the simultaneous accumulation of lycopene. The recent identification of the GREEN-FLESH gene provides a molecular tool with which to investigate the origin of a subset of cultivated tomato varieties that resemble the green-flesh mutant. Sequence analysis of the GF locus from 26 varieties revealed the existence of four previously unidentified null alleles. This study illustrates the potential of cultivated tomato varieties, including heritage cultivars, heirlooms, and land races, for uncovering new alleles in genes of interest.
KeywordsHeirloom tomato Fruit color Chlorophyll degradation Stay-green mutant Genotyping Fruit quality
This research was supported through start-up funds from Michigan State University and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station to C.B.
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