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All-Flesh Tomato Regulated by Reduced Dosage of AFF Provides New Insights into Berry Fruit Evolution

By Lei Liu, Kang Zhang, JinRui Bai, Jinghua Lu, Xiaoxiao Lu, Junling Hu, Chunyang Pan, Shumin He, Jiale Yuan, Yiyue Zhang, Min Zhang, Yanmei Guo, Xiaoxuan Wang, Zejun Huang, Yongchen Du, Feng Cheng, Junming Li

Posted 05 Jan 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.01.04.425284

The formation of locule gel is not only an important developmental process in tomato but also a typical characteristic of berry fruit. In this study, we collected a tomato material that produces all-flesh fruits (AFF), whose locule tissue remains in a solid state during fruit development. We built genetic populations to fine map the causal gene of AFF trait, investigate the function of AFF gene, and identified it as the causal locus conferring the locule gel formation. We determined the causal mutation as a 416-bp deletion that occurred in the promoter region of AFF, which reduces the expression dosage of AFF. The 416-bp deleted sequence has a high level of conservation among closely related Solanaceae species, as well as in the tomato population. The activity of the 416-bp deletion in down-regulating gene expression was further verified by the relative activity in a luciferase experiment. Furthermore, with the BC6 NIL materials, we reveal that the reduced expression dosage of AFF does not impact the normal development of seeds, while produces non-liquefied locule tissue, which is distinct from that of the normal tomatoes in terms of metabolic components. Based on these findings, we propose that the AFF gene is the core node in locule tissue liquefaction, whose function cannot be compensated by its paralogs TAG1, TAGL1, or TAGL11. Our findings provide clues to investigate fruit type differentiation among Solanaceae crops, and also contributes to the breeding application of all flesh fruit tomatoes for the tomato processing industry. One Sentence SummaryThe sequence deletion that occurred in the cis-regulatory region of AFF--the core node of locule tissue liquefaction determined here--reduced its expression dosage, and produced all flesh fruit tomato.

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