Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Heat-resistant protein found in tomatoes

Researchers have detected genes and proteins involved in protecting pollen development and function in tomato crops from high temperature damages.
Heat-resistant protein found in tomatoes
The current rate of population growth means that there is more demand than ever before for strong and productive crop plants. One of the difficulties with growing plants in a broad range of climates is that male plants become sterile if environmental temperatures get too high.

The EU-funded project SPOT-ITN (Pollen thermotolerance and crop fertility) addressed this problem by identifying tomato variants producing pollen with higher tolerance at elevated temperatures. Through the initiative, a network of universities and private companies searched for biochemical markers of pollen thermotolerance.

SPOT-ITN screened a tomato tilling population for genetic mutations associated with heat shock response. The researchers discovered variants with genetic mutations in the heat shock binding protein which is believed to regulate the activity of heat stress transcription factors.

Next, the researchers developed a highly sensitive standard protocol for analysing thermotolerance in different pollen stages. SPOT-ITN also compiled a data pipeline to analyse the large amounts of data produced during the project.

Project researchers collected more than 30 plant lines for analysis and developed several molecular tools to study thermotolerance in pollen. They identified a network of proteins that react to heat in pollen, linked to plant hormone pathways.

These results will help to establish standards for studying thermotolerance in plants and ultimately help feeding a hungry planet.

Related information


Tomatoes, high temperatures, SPOT-ITN, pollen, thermotolerance
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