A new model system for tomato genetics

Rafael Meissner, Yuval Jacobson, Sarah Melamed, Shai Levyatuv, Gil Shalev, Amram Ashri, Yonatan Elkind, Avraham Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

274 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to develop a model system for studying tomato genetics. Agronomic, genetic, and molecular data are presented which show that the miniature Lycopersicon esculentum cultivar, MicroTom (Micro tomato), fulfills the requirements for such a model. It grows at high density (up to 1357 plants/m-2); it has a short life cycle (70-90 days from sowing to fruit ripening); and it can be transformed at frequencies of up to 80% through Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of cotyledons. Moreover, it differs from standard tomato cultivars by only two major genes. Therefore, any mutation or transgene can be conveniently studied in Micro-Tom's background and, when needed, transferred into a standard background. We took advantage of Micro-Tom's features to improve the infrastructure for mutagenesis in tomato. A screening of 9000 M1 and 20 000 M2 EMS mutagenized plants is described. Mutants with altered pigmentation or modified shape of leaves, flowers and fruits were found. In addition, an enhancer trapping end a gene trapping system, based on the Ac/Ds maize transposable elements, were transformed into Micro-Tom and found to be active. In summary, Micro-Tom opens new prospects to achieve saturated mutagenesis in tomato, and facilitates the application of transposon-based technologies such as gene tagging, trapping and knockout.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1465-1472
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997


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