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J Exp Bot. 2012 Oct;63(16):5751-61. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ers224. Epub 2012 Sep 3.

Ethylene independent induction of lycopene biosynthesis in tomato fruits by jasmonates.

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Key Laboratory of Horticultural Plant Growth, Development and Quality improvement, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Horticulture, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, PR China.


One of the main characteristics of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruit ripening is a massive accumulation of carotenoids (mainly lycopene), which may contribute to the nutrient quality of tomato fruit and its role in chemoprevention. Previous studies have shown that ethylene (ET) plays a central role in promoting fruit ripening. In this study, the role of jasmonic acid (JA) in controlling lycopene accumulation in tomato fruits was analysed by measuring fruit lycopene content and the expression levels of lycopene biosynthetic genes in JA-deficient mutants (spr2 and def1) and a 35S::prosystemin transgenic line (35S::prosys) with increased JA levels and constitutive JA signalling. The lycopene content was significantly decreased in the fruits of spr2 and def1, but was enhanced in 35S::prosys fruits. Simultaneously, the expression of lycopene biosynthetic genes followed a similar trend. Lycopene synthesis in methyl jasmonate (MeJA) vapour-treated fruits showed an inverted U-shaped dose response, which significantly enhanced the fruit lycopene content and restored lycopene accumulation in spr2 and def1 at a concentration of 0.5 µM. The results indicated that JA plays a positive role in lycopene biosynthesis. In addition, the role of ET in JA-induced lycopene accumulation was also examined. Ethylene production in tomato fruits was depressed in spr2 and def1 while it increased in 35S::prosys. However, the exogenous application of MeJA to Never ripe (Nr), the ET-insensitive mutant, significantly promoted lycopene accumulation, as well as the expression of lycopene biosynthetic genes. Based on these results, it is proposed that JA might function independently of ethylene to promote lycopene biosynthesis in tomato fruits.

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