Thursday, March 20, 2008

Do you prefer tomatoes or tomatomatoes?

My print version of Science showed up and the cover looks more like some foodie rag. I guessed wrong at first that they were peppers -- right family, wrong fruit. Nope, they are tomatoes.

I like growing tomatoes, though end-of-season output far outpaces my ability to consume them. It's fun growing different varieties, as there are so many different shapes, colors, sizes and flavors. Of course, all of the yard grown ones whip the store cardboard versions. On the other hand, it's hard to grow them around here this time of year -- though I once did have a rampant cherry tomato plant in the tearoom at Harvard (with bunsen burner supports & such staking it up!), though I didn't get any tomatoes until it dawned on me that I needed to play honeybee for the blossoms. When I interviewed at Millennium, someone had a tomato plant growing in the sequencing area (I'm sure the lab safety folks wouldn't let that happen any more!).

Anyway, the Science cover is for an interesting paper showing that a local gene duplication led to elongation of the fruit in one variety. Longer genes, longer fruit! The duplication is recent and was triggered by a retrotransposon, which altered the transcriptional environment around the gene. Cool!