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Regulatory change in YABBY-like transcription factor led to evolution of extreme fruit size during tomato domestication


Plant domestication represents an accelerated form of evolution, resulting in exaggerated changes in the tissues and organs of greatest interest to humans (for example, seeds, roots and tubers). One of the most extreme cases has been the evolution of tomato fruit. Cultivated tomato plants produce fruit as much as 1,000 times larger than those of their wild progenitors. Quantitative trait mapping studies have shown that a relatively small number of genes were involved in this dramatic transition, and these genes control two processes: cell cycle and organ number determination1. The key gene in the first process has been isolated and corresponds to fw2.2, a negative regulator of cell division2,3. However, until now, nothing was known about the molecular basis of the second process. Here, we show that the second major step in the evolution of extreme fruit size was the result of a regulatory change of a YABBY-like transcription factor (fasciated) that controls carpel number during flower and/or fruit development.

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Figure 1: Progression of fruit size increase during tomato domestication.
Figure 2: High-resolution mapping of the fasciated (fas) locus.
Figure 3: In situ hybridization with fas gene during flower development.
Figure 4: Expression analysis of the fasciated gene using RT-PCR.

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We thank the Tomato Genetic Resource Center at University of California Davis for providing wild tomato accessions and A. Frary for critical review of the manuscript. We thank Y. Wang, I. Philips and N. Van Eck for technical assistance. Support for this research was provided by a grant from the US Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative to S.D.T.

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S.D.T. conceived and oversaw the research. L.S.B. and B.C. contributed to the positional cloning of the fasciated gene. B.C. conducted sequence analysis, the RT-PCR analysis, in situ hybridization, generation and characterization of the transgenic plants and association studies. L.S.B. generated the mapping populations. B.C. and S.D.T. jointly prepared the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Steven D Tanksley.

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Cong, B., Barrero, L. & Tanksley, S. Regulatory change in YABBY-like transcription factor led to evolution of extreme fruit size during tomato domestication. Nat Genet 40, 800–804 (2008).

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