Fruit development and ripening.
Fruiting structures in the angiosperms range from completely dry to highly fleshy organs and provide many of our major crop products, including grains. In the model plant Arabidopsis, which has dry fruits, a high-level regulatory network of transcription factors controlling fruit development has been revealed. Studies on rare nonripening mutations in tomato, a model for fleshy fruits, have provided new insights into the networks responsible for the control of ripening. It is apparent that there are strong similarities between dry and fleshy fruits in the molecular circuits governing development and maturation. Translation of information from tomato to other fleshy-fruited species indicates that regulatory networks are conserved across a wide spectrum of angiosperm fruit morphologies. Fruits are an essential part of the human diet, and recent developments in the sequencing of angiosperm genomes have provided the foundation for a step change in crop improvement through the understanding and harnessing of genome-wide genetic and epigenetic variation.