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Nat Genet. 2008 Jun;40(6):800-4. doi: 10.1038/ng.144. Epub 2008 May 11.

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

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


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 determination. The key gene in the first process has been isolated and corresponds to fw2.2, a negative regulator of cell division. 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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