Strigolactones (SLs), a group of plant hormones, induce germination of root-parasitic plants and inhibit shoot branching in many plants. Shoot branching is an important trait that affects the number and quality of flowers and fruits. Root-parasitic plants, such as Phelipanche spp., infect tomato roots and cause economic damage in Europe and North Africa-hence why resistant tomato cultivars are needed. In this study, we found carotenoid cleavage dioxygenase 8-defective mutants of Micro-Tom tomato (slccd8) by the "targeting induced local lesions in genomes" (TILLING) method. The mutants showed excess branching, which was suppressed by exogenously applied SL. Grafting shoot scions of the slccd8 mutants onto wild-type (WT) rootstocks restored normal branching in the scions. The levels of endogenous orobanchol and solanacol in WT were enough detectable, whereas that in the slccd8 mutants were below the detection limit of quantification analysis. Accordingly, root exudates of the slccd8 mutants hardly stimulated seed germination of root parasitic plants. In addition, SL deficiency did not critically affect the fruit traits of Micro-Tom. Using a rhizotron system, we also found that Phelipanche aegyptiaca infection was lower in the slccd8 mutants than in wild-type Micro-Tom because of the low germination. We propose that the slccd8 mutants might be useful as new tomato lines resistant to P. aegyptiaca.
Keywords: Orobanche minor; Phelipanche aegyptiaca; Solanum lycopersicum; carotenoid cleavage dioxygenase 8; shoot branching; strigolactones.