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The suffulta mutation in tomato reveals a novel method of plastid replication during fruit ripening

Forth, Daniel, Pyke, Kevin A.
Journal of experimental botany 2006 v.57 no.9 pp. 1971-1979
Solanum lycopersicum var. lycopersicum, tomatoes, mutation, ripening, chloroplasts, loci, alleles, leaves, stems, plant growth, color, plant pigments, phenotype, chromoplasts, stomata, guard cells, cell division
Mutant alleles at the suffulta locus of tomato dramatically affect the pattern of plastid division throughout the plant, resulting in few, greatly enlarged chloroplasts in leaf and stem cells. suffulta plants are compromised in growth and have distinctly pale stems. The green developing tomato fruit are generally paler compared with the wild type, but ripe red fruit are much more similar in colour and pigment content. By using plastid-targeted green fluorescent protein, the underlying plastid phenotypes in the ripening suffulta fruit reveal that enlarged chlorophyll-containing chloroplasts degenerate and give rise to a wild type-like population of chromoplasts in ripe fruit by a process of plastid budding and fragmentation, resulting in a heterogeneous population of plastid-derived structures which eventually become chromoplasts. In stomatal guard cells, plastid-derived structures lacking chlorophyll, but containing GFP, are also observed, especially in guard cells which completely lack normal chloroplasts. How this novel 'replication' process in suffulta relates to conventional plastid division and stromule formation is discussed.