Understanding epigenetics in tomatoes

Tomatoes are an incredibly important fruit crop, and provide a crop model for plant biology, genomics and fleshy fruit

Lead researchers: UK Collaborators: Prof Paul Fraser, Royal Holloway, University of London; Prof Graham Seymour, University of Nottingham;

US Collaborator: Professor Jim Giovannoni, USDA-ARS, Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University. NSF sponsor

The development and characterisation of an EpiRIL TOMato population: An enabling resource for a new paradigm in the exploitation of natural variation

Tomato is the most important fruit crop in the world and a crop model for plant biology, genomics and fleshy fruit. Fresh and processed tomato products play a crucial role in the human diet, providing essential minerals, vitamins and health promoting phytochemicals. In many crops including tomato, phenotypic diversity is higher than expected based on DNA sequence variation alone. One explanation for this phenomenon is emerging evidence that stable inherited epigenetic variation can provide a basis for Darwinian evolution independent of DNA sequence changes. 

This project will evaluate a population of genetically identical tomato lines with an experimentally induced, mosaic of epigenetic variation (epiRILs) for: (i) their potential to impact agronomic and quality traits, (ii) determine the stability of epigenetic variation under different environmental conditions, and (iii) generate foundational data for further molecular characterization of this population as a model for understanding the crop improvement potential of epigenetic variation.

This project is funded by the BBSRC and the NSF. 


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