Bypassing Negative Epistasis on Yield in Tomato Imposed by a Domestication Gene
. Cell 2017
, 1142-1155.e12. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Selection for inflorescence architecture with improved flower production and yield is common to many domesticated crops. However, tomato inflorescences resemble wild ancestors, and breeders avoided excessive branching because of low fertility. We found branched variants carry mutations in two related transcription factors that were selected independently. One founder mutation enlarged the leaf-like organs on fruits and was selected as fruit size increased during domestication. The other mutation eliminated the flower abscission zone, providing “jointless” fruit stems that reduced fruit dropping and facilitated mechanical harvesting. Stacking both beneficial traits caused undesirable branching and sterility due to epistasis, which breeders overcame with suppressors. However, this suppression restricted the opportunity for productivity gains from weak branching. Exploiting natural and engineered alleles for multiple family members, we achieved a continuum of inflorescence complexity that allowed breeding of higher-yielding hybrids. Characterizing and neutralizing similar cases of negative epistasis could improve productivity in many agricultural organisms. Video Abstract © 2017 Elsevier Inc.
Canalization of tomato fruit metabolism
. Plant Cell 2017
, 2753-2765. Publisher's VersionAbstract
To explore the genetic robustness (canalization) of metabolism, we examined the levels of fruit metabolites in multiple harvests of a tomato introgression line (IL) population. The IL partitions the whole genome of the wild species Solanum pennellii in the background of the cultivated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). We identified several metabolite quantitative trait loci that reduce variability for both primary and secondary metabolites, which we named canalization metabolite quantitative trait loci (cmQTL). We validated nine cmQTL using an independent population of backcross inbred lines, derived from the same parents, which allows increased resolution in mapping the QTL previously identified in the ILs. These cmQTL showed little overlap with QTL for the metabolite levels themselves. Moreover, the intervals they mapped to harbored few metabolism-associated genes, suggesting that the canalization of metabolism is largely controlled by regulatory genes. © American Society of Plant Biologists.
A chemical genetic roadmap to improved tomato flavor
. Science (New York, N.Y.) 2017
, 391-394. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Modern commercial tomato varieties are substantially less flavorful than heirloom varieties. To understand and ultimately correct this deficiency, we quantified flavor-associated chemicals in 398 modern, heirloom, and wild accessions. A subset of these accessions was evaluated in consumer panels, identifying the chemicals that made the most important contributions to flavor and consumer liking. We found that modern commercial varieties contain significantly lower amounts of many of these important flavor chemicals than older varieties. Whole-genome sequencing and a genome-wide association study permitted identification of genetic loci that affect most of the target flavor chemicals, including sugars, acids, and volatiles. Together, these results provide an understanding of the flavor deficiencies in modern commercial varieties and the information necessary for the recovery of good flavor through molecular breeding. Copyright © 2017, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
De novo assembly of a new Solanum pennellii accession using nanopore sequencing
. Plant Cell 2017
, 2336-2348. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Updates in nanopore technology have made it possible to obtain gigabases of sequence data. Prior to this, nanopore sequencing technology was mainly used to analyze microbial samples. Here, we describe the generation of a comprehensive nanopore sequencing data set with a median read length of 11,979 bp for a self-compatible accession of the wild tomato species Solanum pennellii. We describe the assembly of its genome to a contig N50 of 2.5 MB. The assembly pipeline comprised initial read correction with Canu and assembly with SMARTdenovo. The resulting raw nanopore-based de novo genome is structurally highly similar to that of the reference S. pennellii LA716 accession but has a high error rate and was rich in homopolymer deletions. After polishing the assembly with Illumina reads, we obtained an error rate of <0.02% when assessed versus the same Illumina data. We obtained a gene completeness of 96.53%, slightly surpassing that of the reference S. pennellii. Taken together, our data indicate that such long read sequencing data can be used to affordably sequence and assemble gigabase-sized plant genomes. © 2017 The author(s).
Bimodality of stable and plastic traits in plants. Theor Appl Genet 2017
KEY MESSAGE: We discovered an unexpected mode of bimodal distribution of stable and plastic traits, which was consistent for homologous traits of 32 varieties of seven species both in well-irrigated fields and dry conditions. We challenged archived genetic mapping data for 36 fruit, seed, flower and yield traits in tomato and found an unexpected bimodal distribution in one measure of trait variability, the mean coefficient of variation, with some traits being consistently more variable than others. To determine the degree of conservation of this distribution among higher plants, we compared 18 homologous phenotypes, including yield and seed production, across different crop species grown in a common 'crop garden' experiment. The set included 32 varieties of tomato, eggplant, pepper, melon, watermelon, sunflower and maize. Estimates of canalization were obtained using a 'canalization replication' experimental design that generated multiple estimates of the coefficient of variation of traits, as well as their reaction norms in optimal and water-stressed field plots. A common pattern of bimodal distribution of stable and plastic traits was observed for all the varieties and for a wild weed (Solanum nigrum). We propose that canalization profiles of traits in a variety of taxa were ancestrally selected to maximize adaptation and reproductive success.