Could Genetics Grow a Square Tomato?



Today's episode is brought to you by smart water twenty years ago. Smart water, reimagined, what water could be from thoughtful bottle designed to supporting smart people who are changing our world through fresh thinking. Like, you smart water has added electrolytes for taste and great tasting water helps you stay hydrated, feeling refreshed and ready to take on your day. Refresh yourself with smart water. Welcome to brain stuff from how stuff works. Hey, brain stuff. I'm Lauren vocal bomb. And if you wander the protas, I'll at your local grocery store, you'll find a dazzling variety of tomatoes from Charrier grape shaped to massive beef steaks and gnarly heirlooms same with squash potatoes, cucumbers and leafy greens. This bounty of diverse colors shapes and sizes isn't the result of natural selection. But rather human selection over millennia farmers and plant breeders have spotted useful mutations and fruits and vegetables, tastier fruit. Better yields novel shapes and preserved those traits through conventional breeding techniques the process is slow. But if you cross different strains enough times eventually you may create something new enough and marketable enough to be called its own variety. That's low and steady. Conventional breeding process is about to get a big boost from advances in genetic mapping with a tomato or cucumber genome in hand plant breeders, don't have to wait months for tomato plant to bear fruit to know, whether the tomatoes will be pear shaped or round. Instead, they can look for telltale markers and a seedlings DNA the code for specific fruit shape, size and color this technique of marker assisted selection promises to cut years off the traditional plant breeding process. One Esther vendor nap is at the forefront of genetic research into exactly how a plans DNA instructs fruit to grow long and lean like a hothouse cucumber or round and squat like a beefsteak tomato in her lab at the university of Georgia post, docs and undergraduates sliced tomatoes in half in place them on a flatbed scanner to measure the precise shapes and sizes produced by different genetic combinations. In a paper published in November of two thousand eighteen in the journal nature communications Vander nab announced the discovery of two. Families of genes that appear to play key roles and making fruits and vegetables, either round or long fruits and vegetables are technically plants edible organs and those organs grow and develop through cell division. She explained to make a certain shape like a long around shape, you need to have certain patterns of cell division. Either the cells divide horizontally, or they divide vertically, which makes sense the more Oregon cells divide horizontally by splitting down the middle. The more. They're going to build up tissue horizontally, creating a fatter rounder fruit. What Vander nap and her colleagues discovered in the tomato. Genome is a specific gene called ov- eight that appears to be responsible for creating proteins that tell cells to divide in a vertical pattern when more cells split side side, the growth pattern produces at en- long gated fruit. Ov- eight is the difference between a perfectly round cherry tomato and an oblong Plum tomato. Wild tomatoes, like the native varieties found in Peru. Ecuador and Mexico are invariably small and round says Vander nap which means pear shaped and other in long gated tomatoes are mutations that came along later as far back as the nineteen thirties. Plant biologists called the long Gatien mutation ov- eight but had no clue about the actual genetic mechanism behind it. But van nap and her team identified the ovation protein as well as another family of proteins called TRM's that interact with Lovie, and it provides another tool to plant breeders who are using marker assisted selection, if the ov- eight N, T R and markers are present. You can be sure the fruit will be in long gated if one or the other is missing. It's backed round evanger, nap says this will speed up the breeding process and let growers focus on trickier traits. Like yield and pest resistance that aren't as easily linked back to one or two specific genes. So now the question is do these advances in plant genetics mean that your produce Iowa soon include square tomatoes? Or pyramid-shaped pumpkins not likely says Vanja nap, but not because it's technically impossible. She says there are tons of bizarre mutations in the tomato. Genome that result in odds looking fruits and since those mutations are naturally occurring. They could be isolated and replicated in the lab, but the problem was square, tomatoes and other oddball. Shaped fruit is twofold. Internet says first there's the GMO problem if plant breeders use, gene editing to directly tweak or replace genes in food plants. Those strains are considered GMO and some people get freaked out by the GMO label, even though genetically modified organisms as category are no less or more safe than conventionally modified organisms. Second exciting new fruit and vegetable shapes may not shape up in other ways of Android apps said some mutations are so bizarre. That no grower would grow them because they have lots of other problems. They only have a few fruit per plant or they taste terrible. Because when you grow fruit in a really odd shape. You mess up the hormone balance, it may not be very juicy or tasty at all. If you really want to grow a square tomato says Vanja up just put a box round it like you may have seen done with other fruit. Like watermelons should those hit the scene at a premium price? You can always tried growing your own at home. There are plenty of instructions online for building your own square fruit boxes. Today's episode was written by Dave ruse and produced by Tyler claim for I heart media, and how stuff works for more on this and lots of other well rounded topics visit our home planet. How stuff works dot com. Mating matters is why we do what we do. I'm Dr Wendy, Walsh, psychologist and relationship. Guru. And I've got a new podcast that explores the secret evolutionary motivation for human behavior. Mating matters listening. Subscribe at apple podcasts or on the iheartradio app or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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