Mengqin Yao, co-first author of METHYLTRANSFERASE1 and ripening modulate vivipary during tomato fruit development
Current Position: MSc student, Research Centre for Plant RNA Signaling and Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory for Genetic Improvement and Quality Control of Medicinal Plants, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, China
Education: BSc in Bioengineering, Zhejiang Shuren College, Hangzhou, China
Non-scientific Interests: traveling, photographing, reading
Brief bio: After I completed my undergraduate study, I joined Prof. Yiguo Hong’s Research Center as a MSc student in 2018. Since then I have been dedicated to investigating epigenetic regulation in tomato fruit ripening along with Prof Hong and co-supervisor Dr Weiwei Chen. I have been focusing on how silencing of METHYLTRANSFERASE1 (SlMET1) induces vivipary in fruits of the tomato epimutant Colourless non-ripening (Cnr). We found that SlMET1-KD downregulated the expression of SlNCED, the latter encodes a key enzyme in the ABA biosynthetic pathway, resulting in a decrease in ABA concentration. Subsequently, seed dormancy was inhibited, and seeds geminated within fruits, i.e. vivipary. However, ripening in wild-type tomato where SlMET1 was knock-down by RNAi or VIGS as well as ripening-reversion caused by SlMET1-KD in Cnr fruits suppressed vivipary. These findings indicate that the fate of seeds within fruits was not only regulated by an epigenetic mechanism, but also coordinated by a fruit ripening pathway.