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Tomato plant's male reproduction organs shrivel under high temperatures

Date:
December 13, 2016
Source:
Radboud University
Summary:
The male reproduction organs of tomato plants cannot cope with high temperatures. When temperatures rise above 32 degrees Celsius for several consecutive days, their appearance changes and they produce less and less fertile pollen, leading to lower agricultural yields.
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Left: mature flowers of a tomato plant under control conditions (25 degrees Celsius during the day, 19 at night). Right: mature flowers of a tomato plant under hot conditions (32 degrees Celsius during the day, 26 at night). Copyright: PLOS ONE Scale bar: 1 mm. Legend: a = anther, p = petal, s = sepal, pi = pistil, ovl = ovule-like structures.
Credit: PLOS ONE

The male reproduction organs of tomato plants cannot cope with high temperatures. When temperatures rise above 32 degrees Celsius for several consecutive days, their appearance changes and they produce less and less fertile pollen, leading to lower agricultural yields. Biologists at Radboud University published these results in PLOS ONE on December 9.

Rising temperatures on earth -- and the increasing frequency of heat waves in particular -- cause lower agricultural yields. To avoid possible problems in food supply, Ivo Rieu and his colleague biologists at Radboud University study the mechanisms behind these processes. They wonder why flowers become sterile under high temperatures and how this disables their ability to produce seeds and fruits.

Radboud University's molecular plant physiologists focus on the tomato plant (Solanum lycopersicum). In 2014, the world production of this crop was approximately 165 million tons; The Netherlands produce 1 million tons. Furthermore, The Netherlands are a world leader in breeding, producing and selling tomato seeds.

In the PLOS ONE article, the researchers show that the male reproduction organs of tomato plants -- the stamen, made up of a filament with an anther -- become less virile under continuous high temperatures of 32 or 34 degrees Celsius. The anthers deform, and the temperature reduces the pollen's quality and quantity. Through genetic analysis, the biologists discovered that these effects are caused by a lowered expression of the genes that define the floral organ identity. Ivo Rieu's research group also studies genes that provide plants with an increased heat resistance. More knowledge about these processes is useful for the cultivation of heat resistant tomatoes and other crops.


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Materials provided by Radboud University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Florian Müller, Jiemeng Xu, Lieke Kristensen, Mieke Wolters-Arts, Peter F. M. de Groot, Stuart Y. Jansma, Celestina Mariani, Sunghun Park, Ivo Rieu. High-Temperature-Induced Defects in Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Anther and Pollen Development Are Associated with Reduced Expression of B-Class Floral Patterning Genes. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (12): e0167614 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167614

Cite This Page:

Radboud University. "Tomato plant's male reproduction organs shrivel under high temperatures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161213111950.htm>.
Radboud University. (2016, December 13). Tomato plant's male reproduction organs shrivel under high temperatures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 25, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161213111950.htm
Radboud University. "Tomato plant's male reproduction organs shrivel under high temperatures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161213111950.htm (accessed May 25, 2017).

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