Meiosis in Crops

During sexual reproduction and the specialized cell division of meiosis, chromosomes recombine leading to new genetic combinations. We are interested in the factors that control genetic recombination during meiosis in plant species.

Reproduction and meiosis have been molded and adapted over evolutionary time. The cultivated tomato (S. lycopersicum) and related wild species have the potential to be a powerful model system to understand fundamental aspects of plant meiosis. Therefore the group will employ genomics, genome editing and super resolution microscopy to read, rearrange and image chromosomes during tomato meiosis.

The Lycopersicum section, of which S. lycopersicum (the cultivated tomato) is a member, contains thirteen species and approximately 3 million years of divergent evolution separates some of the species. Wide interspecific hybrids are viable, yet crossover suppression between homeologous chromosomes is a major post-zygotic barrier to genetic exchange between related species. Understanding genetic and epigenetic components of this suppression will be one of the group’s major focuses.

Wild species are important genetic resources for the improvement of crops, because they are sources of novel traits and disease resistances. By better understanding meiotic recombination in tomato interspecific hybrids we hope that wild species can be fully exploited in breeding.

Top S. pimpinellifolium inflorescence

Bottom From left, the cultivated tomato (S. lycopersicum), wild tomato from the Galápagos Islands (S. galapagense), and an S. pennellii inflorescence.
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