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  • Author or Editor: Denise M. Tieman x
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Denise M. Tieman and Avtar K. Handa

The growth of tomato fruit is the result of cell division early in development followed by cell expansion until the onset of ripening. We have utilized the mRNA differential display technique to clone genes differentially expressed in 10- and 20-day-old tomato fruit, when most fruit cells are undergoing a transition to growth by cell expansion. Of 1753 total bands observed using 30 independent primer sets, 31 differential display bands were obtained only in either 10-or 20-day - old fruit RNAs. Seven differentially expressed bands from 10-day-old fruit RNAs and six from 20-day-old fruit RNAs were cloned and characterized by sequence analysis and mRNA expression patterns in developing fruit, leaf and root tissues. Two clones had sequence similarities to 3-deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate-7-phosphate (DAHP) synthase or threonine deaminase genes, while the remaining clones did not correspond to previously characterized genes. Steady state levels of mRNAs corresponding to seven clones were upregulated between 10 and 20 days of fruit development, while two clones were downregulated during growth and ripening. Most clones also hybridize to mRNA species present in leaf and root tissues. Collectively, these results suggest a transition in gene expression between 10- and 20-day-old fruit development.

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Denise M. Tieman, Kurt D. Kausch, Delila M. Serra and Avtar K. Handa

Transgenic `Rutgers' 37-81^ tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) homozygous for a pectin methylesterase (PME) antisense gene, which lowers PME activity and increases levels of soluble solids, was compared to azygous (a segregating line of 37-81^ with 0 copies of the introduced gene) and wild-type `Rutgers' in the field during Summer 1992 and 1993 to determine the effects of the introduced PME antisense gene on tomato plant growth, fruit set, fruit yield, and fruit processing attributes. Fresh and dry weight accumulation in transgenic plants was similar to wild-type `Rutgers' and azygous 37-81^ lines during 1992 and 1993, indicating that the introduced PME antisense gene did not affect biomass accumulation. Transgenic plants showed an increase in fruit number and yield in 1992 compared to wild-type `Rutgers' and azygous 37-81^, but no differences were observed among the three genotypes in 1993. Average fruit weight did not show significant differences among the three genotypes in 1992, but was lower in azygous and transgenic plants than wild-type plants in 1993. Transgenic fruit had higher soluble and total solids and higher pH than control fruit, but shelf life was somewhat shorter in transgenic fruit. Overall, these data indicate that introduction of the PME antisense gene, which improves the processing quality of tomatoes, does not adversely affect fruit yield or vegetative growth of plants.