The Tomato Has More Genes Than Humans

published Jun 1, 2012
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

The tomato genome has been decoded! Plant geneticists from 14 different countries spent the last nine years mapping the genetic makeup of the tomato, and have discovered that the tomato contains 31,760 genes – that’s 7,000 more genes than a human being!

The tomato’s genome is actually closer to that of a potato. (The two plants share 92 percent of their DNA.) Why map the tomato genome at all? Scientists hope to use the information to breed better tomatoes, and the tomato genome “is both of intrinsic interest and a key to understanding the very versatile family of plants to which it belongs,” which includes the potato, the tobacco plant, the pepper, the eggplant and deadly nightshade. The full results of the study are published in Nature.