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Planta. 2003 Sep;217(5):726-35. Epub 2003 May 30.

Induction of parthenocarpy in tomato via specific expression of the rolB gene in the ovary.

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Department of Plant Genetics, Institute of Field and Garden Crops, The Volcani Center A.R.O., 50250 Bet Dagan, Israel.


The molecular signals for the development of the ovary into fruit following ovule fertilization are not clear. However, in many species, including tomato ( Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), auxins and auxin transport inhibitors can substitute for fertilization as activators of fruit set, suggesting that this plant hormone plays a key role in this process. In agreement, transgenes for auxin biosynthesis expressed under ovary- or ovule-specific promoters were shown earlier to enable parthenocarpic (i.e. seedless) fruit development. In the present study, we tested an alternative approach for the induction of parthenocarpy that is based on ovary-specific expression of the Agrobacterium rhizogenes-derived gene rolB. This gene was chosen because rolB transgenic plants manifest several syndromes characteristic of auxin treatment. Tomato plants transformed with a chimeric construct containing the rolB gene fused to the ovary- and young-fruit-specific promoter TPRP-F1 developed parthenocarpic fruits. Fruit size and morphology, including jelly fill in the locules of the seedless fruits, were comparable to those of seeded fruits of the parental line. Although it is not known whether ROLB signals for the same cassette of genes involved in fertilization-dependent fruit development, it clearly activates a battery of genes that enable successful completion of seedless fruit development in tomato.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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