A retrotransposon-mediated gene duplication underlies morphological variation of tomato fruit

Science. 2008 Mar 14;319(5869):1527-30. doi: 10.1126/science.1153040.


Edible fruits, such as that of the tomato plant and other vegetable crops, are markedly diverse in shape and size. SUN, one of the major genes controlling the elongated fruit shape of tomato, was positionally cloned and found to encode a member of the IQ67 domain-containing family. We show that the locus arose as a result of an unusual 24.7-kilobase gene duplication event mediated by the long terminal repeat retrotransposon Rider. This event resulted in a new genomic context that increased SUN expression relative to that of the ancestral copy, culminating in an elongated fruit shape. Our discovery demonstrates that retrotransposons may be a major driving force in genome evolution and gene duplication, resulting in phenotypic change in plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Fruit / anatomy & histology*
  • Gene Duplication*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Genome, Plant
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Retroelements*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / anatomy & histology*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / genetics*
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • Plant Proteins
  • Retroelements

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EF094939
  • GENBANK/EF094940
  • GENBANK/EF094941
  • GENBANK/EU491503