By Vanessa Richins
If you have studied the plants in your garden, you may have noticed some differences in how flowers are borne on the stems.
Some flowers, like columbine and poppies, only have one flower (or, sometimes, a small cluster of flowers) per stem.
However, if you look at plants like the tomato, there are multiple branches with flower clusters on each stem.
What determines the flower growth of a plant?
In the latest issue of the science journal PLoS Biology, Dr. Zachary Lippman describes their findings. His team was able to identify the genes in Solanaceae family plants (which, of course, boasts the tomato as a member) that cause the specific flowering growth in these plants.
They identified two different genes that affected flower growth – the anantha gene and the compound inflorescence gene. As Medical News Today reports, the two genes “work in sequence to regulate the timing of development of a branch and a flower – so, for example, slowing down the pathway that makes a flower allows for additional branches to grow.”
This could be very beneficial – branches with many more flowers than usual could be produced, resulting in much higher yields for tomato farmers and gardeners.
And yet…we are back to gene manipulation and modification again. What do you think about modifying tomatoes in this method? Would your opinion change if they were able to produce the results through natural hybridization? Should scientists use their efforts on other projects?
Inquiring minds want to know!