The Secret to More Resilient Tomatoes? No Seeds
High temperatures can interfere with the fertilization of crops, but researchers say there may be another way to ensure a bountiful harvest: seedless fruits. These big fat tomatoes have no seeds. A team led by Duke biologist Tai-ping Sun used a gene editing technique to trick tomato flowers into becoming fruits without pollination, by boosting the activity of a plant hormone called auxin. In a new study, they identified four auxin signaling proteins that act in combination to trigger unpollinated tomato plants to grow seedless fruits that are similar in size to their seeded counterparts. The researchers say their work could help growers develop climate-resilient crops by ensuring fruit production even when extreme drought or heat put pollination at risk.