Sun Locus for Optimizing Tomato Shape

Discovery of the DNA sequence of the sun locus responsible for determining fruit shape, enabling breeders to rapidly introgress the locus via classical crosses in processing, fresh market, and specialty tomato varieties

The Need

Tomato processing is critical in the production of mass produced tomato pastes, tomato sauces, tomato juices, and ketchups among other products. Elongated or square tomatoes are highly sought out for processing needs as this shape of tomato will not roll off conveyor belts and is more structurally suitable for mechanical harvesting. However, elongated or square shaped tomatoes are difficult to come by. Identification of the genetic determinant of fruit shape is critical for developing tomatoes with an elongated fruit shape that satisfies the demands of processors.

The Technology

Researchers at The Ohio State University, led by Dr. Esther van der Knaap, identified the genetic locus, sun. Sun is one of the major determinants of elongated fruit shape and is markedly absent in most varieties of tomatoes used for processing as well as fresh market tomatoes. The genetic disruption of the sun locus allows for the alteration of tomato shape to an optimized elongated or squared shape, with the possibility of additional novelty shapes. This genetic insight will foster more efficient processing and canning of tomatoes.

Commercial Applications

  • Tomato processors
  • Agricultural biotechnology


  • Broaden the diversity of tomatoes available to consumers
  • Improve tomato varieties for slicing
  • More efficient mechanical processing of tomatoes
  • More economical packing of tomatoes into cans

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