Manipulation of carotenoid metabolism stimulates biomass and stress tolerance in tomato

Improving yield, nutritional value and tolerance to abiotic stress are major targets of current breeding and biotechnological approaches that aim at increasing crop production and ensuring food security. Metabolic engineering of carotenoids, the precursor of Vitamin-A and plant hormones that regulate plant growth and response to adverse growth conditions, has been mainly focusing on provitamin A biofortification or the production of high-value carotenoids. Here, we show that the introduction of a single gene of the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway in different tomato cultivars simultaneously improved photosynthetic capacity and tolerance to various abiotic stresses (e.g., high light, salt, and drought), caused an up to 77% fruit yield increase and enhanced fruit's provitamin A content and shelf life. Our findings pave the way for developing a new generation of crops that combine high productivity and increased nutritional value with the capability to cope with climate change-related environmental challenges.

Vallarino, J. G., Mi, J., Petřík, I., Novak, O., Correa, S. M., Kosmacz, M., … Moreno Beltran, J. C. (2021). Manipulation of carotenoid metabolism stimulates biomass and stress tolerance in tomato. doi:10.1101/2021.05.05.442770

We are grateful to Prof. Dr. Lothar Willmitzer for his support and advice. We thank Prof. Dr. Ralph Bock (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant physiology, Golm, Germany) and Dr. Caterina D’Ambrosio (Centro Ricerche Metapontum Agrobios, ALSIA, Italy) for kindly providing the transplastomic pNLyc#2 and LCe seeds and the homozygous nuclear High Caro (H.C.) lines, respectively. We thank Dr. Camila Caldana and Anne Michaelis for providing the GC facility and running the GC samples, respectively, and Maria Rosa Rodriguez-Goberna for technical support related with pigment analysis (supported by grant BIO2017-84041-P from the Spanish AEI). In addition, we thank Hana Martínková and Petra Amakorová for their help with phytohormone analyses. The hormonomics work was funded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (European Regional Development Fund-Project “Plants as a tool for sustainable global development” No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000827), and the Internal Grant Agency of Palacký University (IGA_PrF_2021_011)

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


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