Agricultural Research Service researchers in New York have discovered a gene that regulates fruit ripening by regulating ethylene. Ethylene is a plant hormone responsible for tomato ripening, and promotes ripening in many other plant species. This invention could be used to delay or inhibit fruit ripening—extending shelf life and reducing controlled atmosphere transportation and storage costs. This technology could be used in many important fruit species such as banana, most stone fruits (peach, nectarine, apricot, and plum), apple, pear, melons, squash, and tomato. It offers a genetic option for regulating shelf life in produce where breeding or other genetic options are limited; e.g., bananas. Short shelf life is a major factor in fruit and vegetable crop losses limiting economic return and market opportunities for most major fruit crop species. This is also an issue for developing countries where crop losses can directly impact food security. Extended shelf life effectively increases yield and provides opportunities to deliver fruit products to markets that are currently limited by the time it takes to get products to the marketplace. Although other technologies exist (controlled atmosphere storage, early harvest and other genes), this technology has the potential to impact ripening in a more controlled manner due to its dominant nature.
Companies that produce seed would use this technology. Growers, processors, and consumers would benefit from the product.
Please refer to S.N. 11/442,028 (Docket #0103.05), “Ripening Inhibition in the Tomato Green-Ripe Mutant Results from Ectopic Expression of a Novel Protein which Disrupts Ethylene Signal Transduction,” which was filed on May 26, 2006. Foreign rights are available.
James J. Giovannoni
U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: (607) 255-1414
Fax: (607) 254-2958 James.Giovannoni@ars.usda.gov