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Plant Cell. 1991 Nov;3(11):1187-93.

Control of ethylene synthesis by expression of a bacterial enzyme in transgenic tomato plants.

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Monsanto Company, Chesterfield, Missouri 63198.


Synthesis of the phytohormone ethylene is believed to be essential for many plant developmental processes. The control of ripening in climacteric fruits and vegetables is among the best characterized of these processes. One approach to reduce ethylene synthesis in plants is metabolism of its immediate precursor, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC). Soil bacteria containing an enzyme, ACC deaminase, were identified by their ability to grow on ACC as a sole nitrogen source. The gene encoding ACC deaminase was cloned and introduced into tomato plants. Reduction in ethylene synthesis in transgenic plants did not cause any apparent vegetative phenotypic abnormalities. However, fruits from these plants exhibited significant delays in ripening, and the mature fruits remained firm for at least 6 weeks longer than the nontransgenic control fruit. These results indicated that ACC deaminase is useful for examining the role of ethylene in many developmental and stress-related processes in plants as well as for extending the shelf life of fruits and vegetables whose ripening is mediated by ethylene.

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