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Nat Genet. 2014 Dec;46(12):1337-42. doi: 10.1038/ng.3131. Epub 2014 Nov 2.

Optimization of crop productivity in tomato using induced mutations in the florigen pathway.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, USA.
Department of Plant Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.
Institute of Plant Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Agriculture, Rehovot, Israel.


Naturally occurring genetic variation in the universal florigen flowering pathway has produced major advancements in crop domestication. However, variants that can maximize crop yields may not exist in natural populations. Here we show that tomato productivity can be fine-tuned and optimized by exploiting combinations of selected mutations in multiple florigen pathway components. By screening for chemically induced mutations that suppress the bushy, determinate growth habit of field tomatoes, we isolated a new weak allele of the florigen gene SINGLE FLOWER TRUSS (SFT) and two mutations affecting a bZIP transcription factor component of the 'florigen activation complex' (ref. 11). By combining heterozygous mutations, we pinpointed an optimal balance of flowering signals, resulting in a new partially determinate architecture that translated to maximum yields. We propose that harnessing mutations in the florigen pathway to customize plant architecture and flower production offers a broad toolkit to boost crop productivity.

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