Manipulation of ZDS in tomato exposes carotenoid- and ABA-specific effects on fruit development and ripening

Ryan P. McQuinn, Nigel E. Gapper, Amanda G. Gray, Silin Zhong, Takayuki Tohge, Zhangjun Fei, Alisdair R. Fernie, James J. Giovannoni*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)


    Spontaneous mutations in fruit-specific carotenoid biosynthetic genes of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) have led to improved understanding of ripening-associated carotenogenesis. Here, we confirm that ZDS is encoded by a single gene in tomato transcriptionally regulated by ripening transcription factors RIN, NOR and ethylene. Manipulation of ZDS was achieved through transgenic repression and heterologous over-expression in tomato. CaMV 35S-driven RNAi repression inhibited carotenoid biosynthesis in all aerial tissues examined resulting in elevated levels of ζ-carotene isomers and upstream carotenoids, while downstream all trans-lycopene and subsequent photoprotective carotenes and xanthophylls were diminished. Consequently, immature fruit displayed photo-bleaching consistent with reduced levels of the photoprotective carotenes and developmental phenotypes related to a reduction in the carotenoid-derived phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA). ZDS-repressed ripe fruit was devoid of the characteristic red carotenoid, all trans-lycopene and displayed brilliant yellow pigmentation due to elevated 9,9′ di-cis-ζ-carotene. Over-expression of the Arabidopsis thaliana ZDS (AtZDS) gene bypassed endogenous co-suppression and revealed ZDS as an additional bottleneck in ripening-associated carotenogenesis of tomato. Quantitation of carotenoids in addition to multiple ripening parameters in ZDS-altered lines and ABA-deficient fruit-specific carotenoid mutants was used to separate phenotypic consequences of ABA from other effects of ZDS manipulation and reveal a unique and dynamic ζ-carotene isomer profile in ripe fruit.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2210-2224
    Number of pages15
    JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


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