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Every fruit accumulates sugars and other nutrients during its development. In order to do so, the developing fruit receives carbon from leaves in the form of sugars, especially sucrose, which is a product of photosynthesis and exported to sink organs (roots, flowers and fruits). One of the points that affect the plant yield is the traffic between source and sink tissues regulation. Researchers of Bioscience Institute, headed by Professor Magdalena Rossi of the Botany Department (USP), using tomato as a model system identified a protein that acts within the chloroplast, organelle responsible for photosynthesis, which regulates the sugar transport from leaf to fruit. By developing a transgenic tomato line with a reduction in this protein synthesis, the researchers demonstrated a higher sugar transport from leaf for fruits, therefore named SPA (Sugar Partition-Affecting). This effect, demonstrated by a diversity of biochemical parameters, resulted in plants with bigger and more tomatoes. This could be a good approach to increase the yield of agronomically important plants to improve the harvests. “The functional characterization of SPA open doors for the establishment of new strategies in order to increase food production, one of the great challenges for scientists working with the biology of agronomically important plants. The next steps include large scale tests to evaluate the plant performance and assess the SPA function in other species”, comments the project leader.

The research is alredy published online in the Plant Journal, and you can access by this link the manuscript version full text.