fruitENCODE: an encyclopedia of DNA elements for fruit ripening
Fleshy fruit ripening is an irreversible developmental process that the physiological and biochemical properties of the seed-bearing organ are altered to aid seed dispersal. Significant progress has been made in the model fruit tomato, in which the plant hormone ethylene, fruit specific transcription factors and epigenome reprograming fine tune the ripening processes. The complexity in ripening regulation could be of significant evolutionary advantage, as accidental activation of ripening would attract frugivores prematurely and cause unnecessary seed loss, and the relatively stable epigenome could serve as a checkpoint to prevent ripening before seed maturation. However, as fleshy fruit evolved independently in different plant lineages, it would be naive to consider the observations made in tomato could be universal. The goal of this fruit ENCODE project is to provide a comprehensive annotation of functional elements in not just the tomato genome, but a wide-range of fleshy fruit species in order to examine the diversity of fruit ripening processes.