The Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Fruit Ripening
There are several strands to the research programme:. Tomato as a Model for Understanding Ripening - We use tomato as a model to study fruit ripening. This is because of the wealth of genetic and molecular resources available for this species and the extensive research effort that has been focused on understanding tomato fruit ripening over the last 40 years.
Tomato ripening is initiated and co-ordinated by ethylene, but there are also regulatory genes that act together with this plant hormone during the ripening process.
biochemistry of fruit ripening
A number of rare single gene mutations such as ripening-inhibitor rin , non-ripening nor and Colourless non-ripening Cnr have pleiotropic effects resulting in the reduction or almost complete abolition of ripening. These mutants represent lesions in master switches controlling the ripening process which appear to act up-stream of ethylene.
The molecular basis of the rin mutation was uncovered by positional cloning in Vrebalov et al Science MADS-box genes have commonly been associated with floral development or other major phase changes. However, their association with ripening is perhaps not that surprising as flowering plants are the only group to possess true fruits. Ken Manning then at Warwick University and I used a genetic map-based approach to isolate the gene at the Cnr locus. This gene encodes a member of the SBP-box class of transcript factors and its gene product is likely to control the expression of specific MADS-box genes.
Unexpectedly, Cnr was revealed to be an epigenetic mutation where expression of the CNR gene was silenced by elevated levels of methylation in the gene regulatory region Manning et al. Nature Genetics 38, - Interestingly TDR4 and TAGL1 are similar to genes in the model plant Arabidopsis that control the development and dehiscence of its dry fruits, which are known botanically as siliques.
We wanted to explore the possibility that many of the master switches found to control ripening in tomato have been conserved during the evolution of fruit bearing species. Together with Ken Manning at Warwick and Jim Giovannoni at Cornell we identified a gene in the same class of transcription factors as RIN that can modulate ripening in strawberry a non-climacteric fruit.
Other ripening-related genes found in tomato also have homologs in other species. These berries contain very high levels of anthocyanins that give the fruit their characteristic dark purple colour. Plant Physiology , The tomato genome sequence has now been published The Tomato Genome Consortium Nature - It will underpin all future studies of natural variation across the tomato genome and help us better understand the genetic and molecular basis of fruit quality traits. In my lab we have used the sequence to identify genes under a complex QTL for fruit texture Chapman et al.
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There are several strands to the research programme: Tomato as a Model for Understanding Ripening - We use tomato as a model to study fruit ripening. Genetic improvement of tomato by targeted control of fruit softening Nature Biotechnology.
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The tomato genome sequence provides insights into fleshy fruit evolution Nature. A naturally occurring epigenetic mutation in a gene encoding an SBP-box transcription factor inhibits tomato fruit ripening Nature Genetics. WANG D, Tomato Flavor: Lost and Found? Molecular Plant. Accessing low-oxidation state taxanes: Is taxadiene-4 5 -epoxide on the taxol biosynthetic pathway Chemical Science.
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Annual Review of Plant Biology. PAN, Y. High resolution mapping of a fruit firmness-related qtl in tomato reveals epistatic interactions associated with a complex combinatorial locus. Plant physiology. Hemicellulose fine structure is affected differently during ripening of tomato lines with contrasted texture. International journal of biological macromolecules. Tree Genetics and Genomes. Plant Physiology. AND H, Flexible tools for gene expression and silencing in tomato Plant Physiology. A snapshot of the emerging tomato genome sequence Plant Genome.
Getting it ripe
FABI, J. Molecular cloning and characterization of a ripening-induced polygalacturonase related to papaya fruit softening Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. Current Opinion In Plant Biology. Ethylene insensitivity conferred by the Green-ripe and Never-ripe 2 ripening mutants of tomato Plant Physiology. Q, XUE, Y. Comparative and Functional Genomics. Breeding better varieties through the tomato genome sequencing programme.
Fruit ripening phenomena--an overview.
The Grower. Effect of the Colorless non-ripening mutation on cell wall biochemistry and gene expression during tomato fruit development and ripening Plant Physiology. Pectate lyase gene expression and enzyme activity in ripening banana fruit. Plant Molecular Biology. Cell adhesion in plant, microbial and animal systems. Life on the vine. Nature Biotechnology. Genetic identification and genomic organization of factors affecting fruit texture Journal of Experimental Botany.
Pectate lyases, cell wall degradation and fruit softening Journal of Experimental Botany. Altered cell wall disassembly during ripening of Cnr tomato fruit: implications for cell adhesion and fruit softening Planta. KNOX, J. Pectins and their manipulation: edited by Graham B. Seymour and J. Paul Knox Oxford : Blackwell, Genetic identification and genomic organisation of factors affecting fruit texture. Journal of Experimental Botany.
Theoretical and Applied Genetics.
Modification and degradation of pectins.. Being a part of a balanced diet, fruits play a vital role in human nutrition by supplying the necessary growth regulating factors essential for maintaining normal health.
Fruits are widely distributed in nature. One of the limiting factors that influence their economic value is the relatively short ripening period and reduced post-harvest life. Fruit ripening is a highly coordinated, genetically programmed, and an irreversible phenomenon involving a series of physiological, biochemical, and organoleptic changes, that finally leads to the development of a soft edible ripe fruit with desirable quality attributes.
Carbohydrates play a major role in the ripening process, by way of depolymerization leading to decreased molecular size with concomitant increase in the levels of ripening inducing specific enzymes, whose target differ from fruit to fruit. The major classes of cell wall polysaccharides that undergo modifications during ripening are starch, pectins, cellulose, and hemicelluloses. Pectins are the common and major components of primary cell wall and middle lamella, contributing to the texture and quality of fruits.