Improving cold tolerance in tomato plants using natural variation
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The demand for food and fuel is increasing due to the rising human population. Therefore are their new strategies needed to increase crop yield. Plants suffer from low temperatures which leads to damage to fruit and plant growth. Even non freezing temperatures can have a dramatic effect on plant development. Better insight into cold acclimation responses of plants will lead to better protection to low temperatures. One well examined process that is active during cold acclimation is the c-repeat-binding factor (CBF) regulon. This CBF regulon regulates multiple genes that in turn are responsible for a cold acclimation response. However, not all reactions of the plant are explained by the CBF regulon, therefore more pathways need to be involved. This proposal will search for other pathways that are involved in cold acclimation. This will be done by analyzing tomato varieties that grow on high altitudes with 1) micro array studies and 2) QTL mapping. Identified candidate genes will be studied in function by transforming Arabidopsis plants. It will also be tested if these candidate genes are connected to the CBF regulon or if they regulated the CBF regulon. Heretofore CBF knockout mutants of Arabidopsis will be used and candidate genes will be introduced. The newly identified related genes can be used to improve crop performance even further and keep up with human demand.