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Manipulation of the Blue Light Photoreceptor Cryptochrome 2 in Tomato Affects Vegetative Development, Flowering Time, and Fruit Antioxidant Content1

American Society of Plant Biologists
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  • Research Article


Cryptochromes are blue light photoreceptors found in plants, bacteria, and animals. In Arabidopsis, cryptochrome 2 (cry2) is involved primarily in the control of flowering time and in photomorphogenesis under low-fluence light. No data on the function of cry2 are available in plants, apart from Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Expression of the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) CRY2 gene was altered through a combination of transgenic overexpression and virus-induced gene silencing. Tomato CRY2 overexpressors show phenotypes similar to but distinct from their Arabidopsis counterparts (hypocotyl and internode shortening under both low- and high-fluence blue light), but also several novel ones, including a high-pigment phenotype, resulting in overproduction of anthocyanins and chlorophyll in leaves and of flavonoids and lycopene in fruits. The accumulation of lycopene in fruits is accompanied by the decreased expression of lycopene β-cyclase genes. CRY2 overexpression causes an unexpected delay in flowering, observed under both short- and long-day conditions, and an increased outgrowth of axillary branches. Virus-induced gene silencing of CRY2 results in a reversion of leaf anthocyanin accumulation, of internode shortening, and of late flowering in CRY2-overexpressing plants, whereas in wild-type plants it causes a minor internode elongation.

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