Plant geneticists have figured out how to almost double the production of garden tomatoes. Though most of us care mainly about how big or tasty our corn or tomatoes are, breeders also care about how these plants grow, as the branching patterns of stems can greatly affect the number of fruits produced or how easily they are harvested.
By examining mutant tomato plants, these researchers have now learned which genes are involved in making too many branches. These and related genes are also involved in making flowers and in fruit ripening. By altering these genes, the scientists discovered that they could breed a tomato that branched just enough in the right places to double the production of cherry tomatoes, they report today in Cell. This work is another step in understanding tomato genetics.
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