Geneticists Solve Mystery of Giant Tomatoes

Without mutations on just 2 genes, red fruit would be tiny bud
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2008 11:29 AM CDT
"What's marvelous is that humans did this with no knowledge of genetics ... yet the impact was so enormous," says Steven Tanksley of the cultivation of huge tomatoes.   ((c) adactio)
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(Newser) – Tomatoes would be about the size of blueberries if it weren't for two key genetic mutations, Reuters reports. Scientists mapping the plant's DNA discovered one gene that encourages additional cell division, and another that allows the fruit to grow many more internal compartments. Together the changes have created tomatoes up to 1,000 times bigger than their wild ancestors.

"Humans began domesticating plants in the last roughly 10,000 years. They had no knowledge of genetics and no knowledge of breeding, but somehow they rendered these changes genetically on plants," one scientist said. "This knowledge may help us in the future to have a renaissance of plant domestication, because we are basically living off what humans did in pre-history."