Scientists now know tomato better

May 31st, 2012 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) Scientists have successfully sequenced the genomes of tomato, which is expected to lower costs and increase the vegetable’s production worldwide, officials said Thursday.

It took seven years for the Tomato Genome Consortium (TGC), a group of over 300 scientists from 14 countries, to sequence the genomes of the domesticated vegetable.

Indian scientists also participated in the research.

“This achievement is expected to lower costs and speed up efforts to improve the worldwide tomato production, making it better equipped to combat the pests, pathogens, drought and diseases that now plague growers,” said M.K. Bhan, secretary, Department of Biotechnology.

The University of Delhi (South Campus), National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute and National Institute of Plant Genome Research (New Delhi) under the auspices of the Indian Initiative on Tomato Genome Sequencing participated in the TGC.

Indian scientists are now working to develop tomatoes that can stay fresh for 15-30 days in normal weather conditions.

“The sequences provide a detailed overview at the functional portions of the tomato genome, revealing the order, orientation, types and relative positions of their 35,000 genes,” said National Institute of Plant Genome Research Director Akhilesh Kumar Tyagi, who contributed to the research.

“The sequences will help researchers decipher the relationships between tomato genes and traits and broaden their understanding of genetic and environmental factors that interact to determine a field crop’s health and viability,” he said.

Indian researchers have simultaneously taken up analysis of specific genes/gene families related to ripening, nutrition, disease resistance and abiotic stress tolerance.

“The genomic resources generated are expected to greatly accelerate improvement of tomato. We are also working to develop tomatoes that can stay fresh for over 15-30 days in normal conditions,” he said.

The Indian initiative was funded by the Department of Biotechnology and supported by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research.

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