Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 369–379 | Cite as

Inheritance and effect on ripening of antisense polygalacturonase genes in transgenic tomatoes

  • Christopher J. S. Smith
  • Colin F. Watson
  • Peter C. Morris
  • Colin R. Bird
  • Graham B. Seymour
  • Julie E. Gray
  • Christine Arnold
  • Gregory A. Tucker
  • Wolfgang Schuch
  • Steven Harding
  • Donald Grierson


The role of the cell wall hydrolase polygalacturonase (PG) during fruit ripening was investigated using novel mutant tomato lines in which expression of the PG gene has been down regulated by antisense RNA. Tomato plants were transformed with chimaeric genes designed to express anti-PG RNA constitutively. Thirteen transformed lines were obtained of which five were analysed in detail. All contained a single PG antisense gene, the expression of which led to a reduction in PG enzyme activity in ripe fruit to between 5% and 50% that of normal. One line, GR16, showed a reduction to 10% of normal PG activity. The reduction in activity segregated with the PG antisense gene in selfed progeny of GR16. Plants homozygous for the antisense gene showed a reduction of PG enzyme expression of greater than 99%. The PG antisense gene was inherited stably through two generations. In tomato fruit with a residual 1% PG enzyme activity pectin depolymerisation was inhibited, indicating that PG is involved in pectin degradation in vivo. Other ripening parameters, such as ethylene production, lycopene accumulation, polyuronide solubilisation, and invertase activity, together with pectinesterase activity were not affected by the expression of the antisense gene.

Key words

antisense polygalacturonase ripening RNA tomatoes transgenic 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher J. S. Smith
    • 1
  • Colin F. Watson
    • 1
  • Peter C. Morris
    • 1
  • Colin R. Bird
    • 2
  • Graham B. Seymour
    • 3
  • Julie E. Gray
    • 1
  • Christine Arnold
    • 1
  • Gregory A. Tucker
    • 3
  • Wolfgang Schuch
    • 2
  • Steven Harding
    • 3
  • Donald Grierson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and Environmental ScienceUniversity of Nottingham, Faculty of Agricultural and Food SciencesLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.ICI Seeds, Plant Biotechnology SectionJealott's Hill Research StationBracknellUK
  3. 3.Department of Applied Biochemistry and Food ScienceUniversity of Nottingham, Faculty of Agricultural and Food SciencesLoughboroughUK

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