Genetics and control of tomato fruit ripening and quality attributes

Annu Rev Genet. 2011;45:41-59. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-110410-132507.


Tomato ripening is a highly coordinated developmental process that coincides with seed maturation. Regulated expression of thousands of genes controls fruit softening as well as accumulation of pigments, sugars, acids, and volatile compounds that increase attraction to animals. A combination of molecular tools and ripening-affected mutants has permitted researchers to establish a framework for the control of ripening. Tomato is a climacteric fruit, with an absolute requirement for the phytohormone ethylene to ripen. This dependence upon ethylene has established tomato fruit ripening as a model system for study of regulation of its synthesis and perception. In addition, several important ripening mutants, including rin, nor, and Cnr, have provided novel insights into the control of ripening processes. Here, we describe how ethylene and the transcription factors associated with the ripening process fit together into a network controlling ripening.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts / physiology
  • Ethylenes / metabolism*
  • Flavoring Agents / metabolism*
  • Fruit / genetics
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Fruit / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / metabolism
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / physiology
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / metabolism


  • Ethylenes
  • Flavoring Agents
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Transcription Factors
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • ethylene
  • Protein Kinases
  • CTR1 protein, Arabidopsis