Letter | Published:

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

Nature Genetics volume 40, pages 800804 (2008) | Download Citation



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.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    The genetic, developmental, and molecular bases of fruit size and shape variation in tomato. Plant Cell 16 (Suppl.), S181–S189 (2004).

  2. 2.

    et al. fw2.2: a quantitative trait locus key to the evolution of tomato fruit size. Science 289, 85–88 (2000).

  3. 3.

    , & Natural alleles at a tomato fruit size quantitative trait locus differ by heterochronic regulatory mutations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99, 13606–13611 (2002).

  4. 4.

    , & The molecular genetics of crop domestication. Cell 127, 1309–1321 (2006).

  5. 5.

    et al. An SNP caused loss of seed shattering during rice domestication. Science 312, 1392–1396 (2006).

  6. 6.

    & Dissecting the genetic pathway to extreme fruit size in tomato using a cross between the small-fruited wild species Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium and L. esculentum var. Giant Heirloom. Genetics 158, 413–422 (2001).

  7. 7.

    & Evaluating the genetic basis of multiple-locule fruit in a broad cross section of tomato cultivars. Theor. Appl. Genet. 109, 669–679 (2004).

  8. 8.

    & An introgression line population of Lycopersicon pennellii in the cultivated tomato enables the identification and fine mapping of yield-associated QTL. Genetics 141, 1147–1162 (1995).

  9. 9.

    et al. Ectopic expression of OsYAB1 causes extra stamens and carpels in rice. Plant Mol. Biol. 56, 133–143 (2004).

  10. 10.

    , , , & Evidence that CRABS CLAW and TOUSLED have conserved their roles in carpel development since the ancestor of the extant angiosperms. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102, 4649–4654 (2005).

  11. 11.

    , , , & The Tousled gene in A. thaliana encodes a protein kinase homolog that is required for leaf and flower development. Cell 75, 939–950 (1993).

  12. 12.

    & Comparative sequencing in the genus Lycopersicon: implications for the evolution of fruit size in the domestication of cultivated tomatoes. Genetics 162, 365–379 (2002).

  13. 13.

    , & Microprep protocol for extraction of DNA from tomato and other herbaceous plants. Plant Mol. Biol. Rep. 13, 207–209 (1995).

  14. 14.

    et al. MAPMAKER: an interactive computer package for constructing primary genetic linkage maps of experimental and natural populations. Genomics 1, 174–181 (1987).

  15. 15.

    The estimation of map distance from recombination values. Ann. Eugen. 12, 172–175 (1944).

  16. 16.

    et al. Effective vectors for transformation, expression of heterologous genes, and assaying transposon excision in transgenic plants. Transgenic Res. 1, 285–297 (1992).

  17. 17.

    et al. floricaula: a homeotic gene required for flower development in Antirrhinum majus. Cell 63, 1311–1322 (1990).

Download references


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.

Author information

Author notes

    • Luz S Barrero

    Present address: Corporación Colombiana de Investigación Agropecuaria, Bogotá, Colombia.


  1. Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.

    • Bin Cong
    • , Luz S Barrero
    •  & Steven D Tanksley
  2. Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.

    • Bin Cong
    • , Luz S Barrero
    •  & Steven D Tanksley


  1. Search for Bin Cong in:

  2. Search for Luz S Barrero in:

  3. Search for Steven D Tanksley in:


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.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Steven D Tanksley.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Text and Figures

    Supplementary Figures 1–5 and Supplementary Tables 1–7

About this article

Publication history






Further reading