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Antisense suppression of a β-galactosidase gene (TBG6) in tomato increases fruit cracking

Edgar Moctezuma, David L. Smith and Kenneth C. Gross
Journal of Experimental Botany
Vol. 54, No. 390 (September 2003), pp. 2025-2033
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23697999
Page Count: 9
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Antisense suppression of a β-galactosidase gene (TBG6) in tomato increases fruit cracking
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Abstract

Antisense suppression of a tomato β-galactosidase gene (TBG6) was used to study its role in fruit development, cell wall-modification, and fruit firmness. TBG6 mRNA is highly abundant during the early stages of fruit development, but the levels decline sharply after the breaker stage with the start of the respiratory climacteric and a concomitant increase in ethylene production. Two antisense lines were obtained with significantly reduced levels of TBG6 mRNA at all stages of fruit development. At 30 d after pollination (dap), TBG6 mRNA levels were reduced by up to 98% and 88% in lines 6-2 and 6-10, respectively. Morphological phenotypes observed in the antisense lines included increased fruit cracking, reduced locular space, and a doubling in the thickness of the fruit cuticle. Two biochemical changes in antisense lines, compared with wild-type lines, were a reduction of exo-galactanase activity at the breaker +3 d stage and a reduction in the cell wall galactosyl content at the 20 dap stage. In addition, transgenic lines exhibited a 35—39% reduction in fruit firmness at the 20 dap stage, but their texture was equivalent to the wild type at 30 dap and beyond. Although the exact function of the TBG6 product is still unknown, these results implicate an important role for this enzyme in early fruit growth and development in tomato.

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