Transcriptional control of fleshy fruit development and ripening

R.B. Karlova, N. Chapman, K. David, G.C. Angenent, G.B. Seymour, R.A. de Maagd

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169 Citations (Scopus)


Fleshy fruits have evolved to be attractive to frugivores in order to enhance seed dispersal, and have become an indispensable part of the human diet. Here we review the recent advances in the understanding of transcriptional regulation of fleshy fruit development and ripening with a focus on tomato. While aspects of fruit development are probably conserved throughout the angiosperms, including the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, it is shown that the likely orthologues of Arabidopsis genes have distinct functions in fleshy fruits. The model for the study of fleshy fruit development is tomato, because of the availability of single gene mutants and transgenic knock-down lines. In other species, our knowledge is often incomplete or absent. Tomato fruit size and shape are co-determined by transcription factors acting during formation of the ovary. Other transcription factors play a role in fruit chloroplast formation, and upon ripening impact quality aspects such as secondary metabolite content. In tomato, the transcription factors NON-RIPENING (NOR), COLORLESS NON-RIPENING (CNR), and RIPENING INHIBITOR (MADS-RIN) in concert with ethylene signalling regulate ripening, possibly in response to a developmental switch. Additional components include TOMATO AGAMOUS-LIKE1 (TAGL1), APETALA2a (AP2a), and FRUITFULL (FUL1 and FUL2). The links between this highly connected regulatory network and downstream effectors modulating colour, texture, and flavour are still relatively poorly understood. Intertwined with this network is post-transcriptional regulation by fruit-expressed micro-RNAs targeting several of these transcription factors. This important developmental process is also governed by changes in DNA methylation levels and possibly chromatin remodelling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4527-4541
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • mads-box gene
  • tomato fruit
  • abscisic-acid
  • draft genome
  • carotenoid accumulation
  • climacteric fruit
  • down-regulation
  • anthocyanin accumulation
  • ethylene biosynthesis
  • hormonal-regulation


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