Wild gene allows tomatoes to grow and fruit around the clock

Dutch researchers have discovered a gene which enables tomato plants to photosynthesise and grow for 24 hours a day, leading to a 20 per cent increase in yield.

Image: HW
Image: HW

It has long been known that cultivated tomato plants exposed to light for more than 16 hours a day develop leaf injuries which can lead to the death of the plant, though the mechanism is poorly understood.

But the Wageningen University study shows that some wild species are resistant to damage from continuous light, due to a gene known as CAB-13. If this is inserted into modern tomato varieties via crossing, the tolerance of constant light is carried across.

A glasshouse trial of the crossed crop yielded plants that not only tolerated 24-hours-a-day lighting without leaf injury, but also yielded 20 percent more tomatoes.

The results are published today (5 August) in Nature Communications, an imprint of the journal Nature.


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