Characterization of genes controlling stamen identity and development in a parthenocarpic tomato mutant indicates a role for the DEFICIENS ortholog in the control of fruit set

Authors

  • Andrea Mazzucato,

    Corresponding author
    1. Dipartimento di Agrobiologia e Agrochimica, Sezione Genetica, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Via S.C. de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
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  • Irene Olimpieri,

    1. Dipartimento di Agrobiologia e Agrochimica, Sezione Genetica, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Via S.C. de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
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  • Francesca Siligato,

    1. Dipartimento di Agrobiologia e Agrochimica, Sezione Genetica, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Via S.C. de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
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  • Maurizio Enea Picarella,

    1. Dipartimento di Agrobiologia e Agrochimica, Sezione Genetica, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Via S.C. de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
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  • Gian Piero Soressi

    1. Dipartimento di Agrobiologia e Agrochimica, Sezione Genetica, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Via S.C. de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
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*e-mail: mazz@unitus.it

Abstract

The development of the ovary into a fruit depends on pollination and fertilization. It has been proposed that the restriction of ovary growth before pollination is because of the stamens acting as negative regulators. Accordingly, the silencing of genes responsible for stamen identity has been correlated with parthenocarpy in different species. The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) parthenocarpic fruit (pat) mutation associates autonomous ovary development with homeotic transformation of the anthers and aberrancy of ovules in the ovary. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that stamen aberrations and parthenocarpy in pat are driven by cues coming from the altered expression of class B MADS box genes. The data showed that the Pat locus is not allelic to either of the two tomato mutations putatively involved in the B function, stamenless (sl)-2 and pistillate (pi) or to genes encoding class B transcription factors. Whereas pat pi double mutants were not recovered because of tight linkage, pat sl-2 double mutants showed mainly epistatic effects. The developmental regulation of the Sl DEFICIENS (DEF) gene in the wild-type (WT) at anthesis as well as its differential transcription in the pat ovary suggest that it plays a role in the control of ovary growth. Accordingly, when compared with the WT, the gene was also differentially expressed in the parthenocarpic fruit-2 (pat-2) mutant, that is not allelic to pat and has normal ovule development. Altogether the results indicate that in tomato SlDEF plays a role in the control of ovary growth and that the pat mutation is located upstream of this regulatory cascade.

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