Genome-Wide Identification of the Aconitase Gene Family in Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and CRISPR-Based Functional Characterization of SlACO2 on Male-Sterility

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Secgin Z., ULUIŞIK S., YILDIRIM K., Abdulla M. F., Mostafa K., Kavas M.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES, vol.23, no.22, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23 Issue: 22
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/ijms232213963
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: aconitate hydratase, CRISPR, Cas9, male sterility, seedless tomato, EXPRESSION, STRESS, ARABIDOPSIS, PROTEOME, PROLINE, COMPLEX, GROWTH
  • Ondokuz Mayıs University Affiliated: Yes


Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is one of the most cultivated vegetables in the world due to its consumption in a large variety of raw, cooked, or processed foods. Tomato breeding and productivity highly depend on the use of hybrid seeds and their higher yield, environmental adaption, and disease tolerance. However, the emasculation procedure during hybridization raises tomato seed production costs and labor expenses. Using male sterility is an effective way to reduce the cost of hybrid seeds and ensure cultivar purity. Recent developments in CRISPR genome editing technology enabled tomato breeders to investigate the male sterility genes and to develop male-sterile tomato lines. In the current study, the tomato Acotinase (SlACO) gene family was investigated via in silico tools and functionally characterized with CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene disruption. Genome-wide blast and HMM search represented two SlACO genes located on different tomato chromosomes. Both genes were estimated to have a segmental duplication in the tomato genome due to their identical motif and domain structure. One of these genes, SlACO2, showed a high expression profile in all generative cells of tomato. Therefore, the SlACO2 gene was targeted with two different gRNA/Cas9 constructs to identify their functional role in tomatoes. The gene was mutated in a total of six genome-edited tomato lines, two of which were homozygous. Surprisingly, pollen viability was found to be extremely low in mutant plants compared to their wild-type (WT) counterparts. Likewise, the number of seeds per fruit also sharply decreased more than fivefold in mutant lines (10-12 seeds) compared to that in WT (67 seeds). The pollen shape, anther structures, and flower colors/shapes were not significantly varied between the mutant and WT tomatoes. The mutated lines were also subjected to salt and mannitol-mediated drought stress to test the effect of SlACO2 on abiotic stress tolerance. The results of the study indicated that mutant tomatoes have higher tolerance with significantly lower MDA content under stress conditions. This is the first CRISPR-mediated characterization of ACO genes on pollen viability, seed formation, and abiotic stress tolerance in tomatoes.