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A new model system for tomato genetics

Authors

  • Rafael Meissner,

    1. Plant Genetics Department, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 76100 Israel
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  • Yuval Jacobson,

    1. Department of Field Crops, Vegetables and Genetics, Faculty of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100, Israel
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  • Sarah Melamed,

    1. Plant Genetics Department, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 76100 Israel
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  • Shai Levyatuv,

    1. Department of Field Crops, Vegetables and Genetics, Faculty of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100, Israel
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  • Gil Shalev,

    1. Plant Genetics Department, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 76100 Israel
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  • Amram Ashri,

    1. Department of Field Crops, Vegetables and Genetics, Faculty of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100, Israel
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  • Yonatan Elkind,

    1. Department of Field Crops, Vegetables and Genetics, Faculty of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100, Israel
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  • Avraham Levy

    Corresponding author
    1. Plant Genetics Department, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 76100 Israel
      *For correspondence (fax +972 8 934 4181; e-mail lplevy@weizmann.weizmann.ac.il).
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*For correspondence (fax +972 8 934 4181; e-mail lplevy@weizmann.weizmann.ac.il).

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to develop a model system for studying tomato genetics. Agronomic, genetic, and molecular data are presented which show that the miniature Lycopersicon esculentum cultivar, Micro-Tom (Micro tomato), fulfills the requirements for such a model. It grows at high density (up to 1357 plants/m−2); it has a short life cycle (70–90 days from sowing to fruit ripening); and it can be transformed at frequencies of up to 80% through Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of cotyledons. Moreover, it differs from standard tomato cultivars by only two major genes. Therefore, any mutation or transgene can be conveniently studied in Micro-Tom’s background and, when needed, transferred into a standard background. We took advantage of Micro-Tom’s features to improve the infrastructure for mutagenesis in tomato. A screening of 9000 M1 and 20 000 M2 EMS mutagenized plants is described. Mutants with altered pigmentation or modified shape of leaves, flowers and fruits were found. In addition, an enhancer trapping and a gene trapping system, based on the Ac/Ds maize transposable elements, were transformed into Micro-Tom and found to be active. In summary, Micro-Tom opens new prospects to achieve saturated mutagenesis in tomato, and facilitates the application of transposon-based technologies such as gene tagging, trapping and knockout.

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