A mutation in one copy of the gene SFT in tomato increases fruit yield by up to 60%, according to a report published this week in Nature Genetics. The study suggests that improved vigor in plants can result from single heterozygous mutations.
Heterosis, or hybrid vigor, is a well-known genetic phenomenon, which is characterized by increased vigor or other superior qualities in offspring from two parents that are genetically different. Heterosis has immense practical value and is widely applied in agriculture, as many crops are grown from hybrid seed. However, the genetic mechanisms underlying heterosis are not well understood.
Zachary Lippman and colleagues find that mutation of just one copy of SFT leads to increased fruit yield in tomato. Plants were tested under diverse agricultural conditions and showed consistent increases in SFT hybrid plants.