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JOINTLESS is a MADS-box gene controlling tomato flower abscissionzone development


Abscission is a universal and dynamic process in plants whereby organssuch as leaves, flowers and fruit are shed, both during normal development,and in response to tissue damage and stress1. Shedding occursby separation of cells in anatomically distinct regions of the plant, calledabscission zones (AZs). During abscission, the plant hormone ethylene stimulatescells to produce enzymes that degrade the middle lamella between cells inthe AZ. The physiology and regulation of abscission at fully developed AZsis well known2,3, but the molecular biology underlying theirdevelopment is not. Here we report the first isolation of a gene directlyinvolved in the development of a functional plant AZ. Tomato plants with the jointless mutation4 fail to develop AZs on their pedicelsand so abscission of flowers or fruit does not occur normally. We identify JOINTLESS as a new MADS-box gene in a distinct phylogenetic clade separatefrom those functioning in floral organs. We propose that a deletion in JOINTLESS accounts for the failure of activation of pedicel AZ developmentin jointless tomato plants.

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Figure 1: The tomato JOINTLESS gene.
Figure 2: Sense complementation and antisense suppression of AZs in jointless and wild-type tomatoes.
Figure 3: The segregation of transgenes in T1 progeny from an antisense primarytransgenic plant (a) and expression analysis of JOINTLESS gene(b).
Figure 4: The phylogenetic relationship of JOINTLESS with other MADS-boxgenes.


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We thank H.-B. Zhang, S. D. Choi and C. Scheuring for their work duringthe early stage of this project; C. M. Rick for the NILs LA3023 and LA3021;S. S. Woo for sequence analysis of YAC end TY159L; and the staff of the CUGIDNA Sequencing, Bioinformatics (M. Sasinowsky) and BAC/EST Resource (D. Frisch)Centers. This work is supported by a National Science Foundation grant toR.A.W and E.J.S and the Coker Chair in Plant Molecular Genetics to R.A.W.Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in thismaterial are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the viewsof the National Science Foundation.

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Correspondence to Rod A. Wing.

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Mao, L., Begum, D., Chuang, Hw. et al. JOINTLESS is a MADS-box gene controlling tomato flower abscissionzone development. Nature 406, 910–913 (2000).

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