Genes control the shape of vegetables
The shape and size of vegetables and fruits determine the culinary purpose of the produce. Constraints of mechanical harvest and consumer preference require the correct appearance of the product when releasing profitable varieties. The lack of knowledge on morphological traits often hampers the efforts by plant breeders to create improved types. The knowledge of the genes has advanced the efficacy in tomato breeding programs at the UGA Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics because it enables the creation of cultivars that feature the appropriate dimensions of the produce. Further insights into how these genes function has recently led to the discovery of other genes that aide in fruit shape regulation. Investigations with collaborators at other institutions showed that the same genes that affect tomato fruit shape also influence potato tuber shape, as well as the shape of melons, cucumbers, leaves and grains. This knowledge greatly influences the efficacy of breeding programs for tomato and virtually all fruits and vegetables of economic importance.