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J Exp Bot. 2010 Jun;61(11):3003-13. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erq134. Epub 2010 May 19.

Increase in fruit size of a spontaneous mutant of 'Gala' apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.) is facilitated by altered cell production and enhanced cell size.

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Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


Fruit size regulation was studied in the apple cultivar 'Gala' and a large fruit size spontaneous mutant of 'Gala', 'Grand Gala' (GG). GG fruits were 15% larger in diameter and 38% heavier than 'Gala' fruits, largely due to an increase in size of the fruit cortex. The mutation in GG altered growth prior to fruit set and during fruit development. Prior to fruit set, the carpel/floral-tube size was enhanced in GG and was associated with higher cell number, larger cell size, and increased ploidy through endoreduplication, an altered form of the cell cycle normally absent in apple. The data suggest that the mutation in GG promotes either cell production or endoreduplication in the carpel/floral-tube cells depending on their competence for division. Ploidy was not altered in GG leaves. During fruit growth, GG fruit cells exited cell production earlier, and with a DNA content of 4C suggesting G2 arrest. Cell size was higher in GG fruits during exit from cell production and at later stages of fruit growth. Final cell diameter in GG fruit cortex cells was 15% higher than that in 'Gala' indicating that enhanced fruit size in GG was facilitated by increased cell size. The normal progression of cell expansion in cells arrested in G2 may account for the increase in cell size. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis indicated higher MdCDKA1 expression and reduced MdCYCA2 expression during early fruit development in GG fruits. Together, the data indicate an important role for cell expansion in regulating apple fruit size.

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