Extremely elongated tomato fruit controlled by four quantitative trait loci with epistatic interactions
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Cultivated tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) encompass a wide range of fruit shape and size variants. This variation can be used to genetically dissect the molecular basis of ovary and fruit morphology. The cultivar Long John displays an extremely elongated fruit phenotype, while the wild relative Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium LA1589 produces fruit that are nearly perfect spheres, typical of wild tomatoes. Quantitative trait mapping of an F2 population between Long John and LA1589 revealed four fruit shape QTLs, located on chromosomes 2, 3, 7 and 11. The primary role of the fruit shape QTL located on chromosome 7, ljfs7, is to control pericarp elongation. The primary role of the fruit shape QTLs on chromosome 2, 3 and 11 (ljfs2, ljfs3 and ljfs11, respectively) is to control pear shape, measured as the eccentricity index. QTL map position and the effect of the loci on fruit shape suggested that ljfs2 and ljfs7 are allelic to the well-studied fruit shape loci ovate and sun, respectively. ljfs3 and ljfs11 map near the previously identified, but less characterized, fruit shape loci fs3.2 and fs11.1, respectively. This result suggests that most of the variation in tomato fruit shape is controlled by a few major QTLs. Although eccentricity and pericarp elongation were largely controlled by independent growth processes, significant interactions were detected between all four fruit shape loci in the control of eccentricity. This indicates that the three eccentricity loci, ljfs2, ljfs3 and ljfs11, epistatically control the same developmental process, while ljfs7 had a pleiotropic effect on eccentricity.
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