Welcome to another week of doomsday escapism. We bring you a cool story about transpiring tomatoes, wonder about wild cotton and are suspicious about road-side super-plants. And we ask: What is your favourite idiom that translates poorly into English?
Transpiration from Tomato Fruit Occurs Primarily via Trichome-Associated Transcuticular Polar Pores, Eric A. Fich, Josef Fisher, Dani Zamir, Jocelyn K.C. Rose, Plant Physiology Dec 2020, 184 (4) 1840-1852; DOI: 10.1104/pp.20.01105
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Check out the new episode of the Plant Book Club!
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Until next time!
Behind the scenes of Plants and Pipettes
[These are the notes Joram took based on the paper.]
- Tomatoes. We can’t live without them
- Very good
- They do dry out though eventually which is not so good
- When plants dry out (transpire), they do that with their stomata
- BUT: TOMATOES ARE ASTOMATOUS
- The fruits don’t transpire through stomata
- HOW I ask HOW?!
- Well actually there are other ways to transpire
- 9 out 10 transpiration experts agree that the cuticular (wax layer) blocks a lot of transpiration, but not all of it
- BUT HOW do they transpire when there is a layer of wax that is impermeable to water
- Good question
- Nobody knows
- UNTIL NOW
- It could be through the cuticular. The wax layer could be differently THICK or made from different waxes
- or it could have spots where hydrophilic sugars let water through
- who knows
- guess what, we will know in like ten minutes
- So the researchers first needed things to compare. Without compare no information share
- They screened almost 400 (398) tomato varieties from three species in the field for their water retention abilities
- Some transpire a lot, others less so
- They picked exemples from both extremes: four low-water-loss lines, and five high-water-loss lines
- Now they could compare them and try to find what one group had that made it better than the other group
- They measured many things
- Was it cuticular thickness –> NO correlation with water loss
- What about cuticle permeance -> NAH
- Or cuticle composition? Guess what (no)
- Nothing correlated with the water loss behaviour
- so what could it be?
- THEY NOTICED SOMETIN
- to control for damage of the cuticle, they would use a water soluble staining solution. If the cuticle was damaged, it would show up as blue spots
- Oh my gosh there were so many blue spots but they were tiny
- Upon closer inspection it turned out to be small holes
- from trichomes!
- Trichomes are the pointy needle bits on tomato stems and fruit
- When the trichome breaks, it leaves a small spot that is water soluble
- and guess what: the tomatoes that easily lost water had more trichome holes than the ones that kept their water
- The whole story gives a good indication about tomato fruit transpiration and sets a goal for breeders: trichome number on fruit might best be kept low to avoid transpiration during transport
- Because interestingly: wild relatives of tomatoes have less trichomes on their fruit, but the more we domesticated them, the more trichomes they would accumulate as a biproduct of breeding