ENO regulates tomato fruit size through the floral meristem development network
A dramatic evolution of fruit size has accompanied the domestication and improvement of fruit-bearing crop species. In tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), naturally occurring cis-regulatory mutations in the genes of the CLAVATA-WUSCHEL signaling pathway have led to a significant increase in fruit size generating enlarged meristems that lead to flowers with extra organs and bigger fruits. In this work, by combining mapping-by-sequencing and CRISPR/ Cas9 genome editing methods, we isolated EXCESSIVE NUMBER OF FLORAL ORGANS (ENO), an AP2/ERF transcription factor which regulates floral meristem activity. Thus, the ENO gene mutation gives rise to plants that yield larger multilocular fruits due to an increased size of the floral meristem. Genetic analyses indicate that eno exhibits synergistic effects with mutations at the LOCULE NUMBER (encoding SlWUS) and FASCIATED (encoding SlCLV3) loci, two central players in the evolution of fruit size in the domestication of cultivated tomatoes. Our findings reveal that an eno mutation causes a substantial expansion of SlWUS expression domains in a flower-specific manner. In vitro binding results show that ENO is able to interact with the GGC-box cis-regulatory element within the SlWUS promoter region, suggesting that ENO directly regulates SlWUS expression domains to maintain floral stem-cell homeostasis. Furthermore, the study of natural allelic variation of the ENO locus proved that a cis-regulatory mutation in the promoter of ENO had been targeted by positive selection during the domestication process, setting up the background for significant increases in fruit locule number and fruit size in modern tomatoes.