Besides being a model for fleshy fruits and Solanaceae species, tomato represents one of the main sources of ascorbate (vitamin C) in human diet in many parts of the world. Ascorbate fulfills various roles in plants due to its antioxidant potential and to its connection with other metabolic pathways e.g. cell wall biosynthesis. Among the functional genomic tools recently developed in tomato, EMS (ethyl methanesulfonate) mutant collections provide an opportunity for identifying allelic series of mutations in target genes by TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes). We describe here the use of tomato EMS mutant collections in the miniature cv. Micro-Tom for the discovery of allelic variants in three ascorbate biosynthetic genes encoding the GDP-D-mannose pyrophosphorylase (GMP), the GDP-D-mannose epimerase (GME) and the GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase (GGP) respectively. We report on the discovery of several missense, truncation and splice junction mutations in these genes affecting plant ascorbate content to various levels, and show that several tomato mutant lines with strongly reduced ascorbate content undergo severe bleaching upon exposure to high light intensity.
2013 by Japanese Society for Plant Cell and Molecular Biology