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Isoprenoid metabolism in tomato: Involvement in development and stress response

During tomato fruit ripening a series of biochemical and metabolic changes alter fruit pigmentation, texture, flavor and aroma. However, in the late stages of ripening other changes, such as the rapid softening and increased susceptibility to microbial infection, negatively affect fruit quality and significantly determine the harvest, transport, storage and marketing of the fruit. Although the biochemical and metabolic processes related to fruit quality have been extensively studied in tomato, other less-characterized biochemical processes, like sterol metabolism, may also play important roles not only in fruit development and ripening but also in mediating stress responses.

In plants sterols are found in free and conjugated forms. Steryl glucosides (SG) and and acylsteryl glucosides (ASG) are minor components in the membranes of most plants. However, tomato tissues accumulate large amounts of SG and ASG, particularly in the fruit. Remarkable changes in the abundance and relative ratios of free sterols and their conjugated forms take place in the tomato fruit during ripening and cold acclimation. At present, very little is known about the role of sterols in plant growth, fruit development and ripening, cold injury and resistance or susceptibility to pathogen attack. Research activities of the group are mainly focused on the study of different aspects of sterol metabolism in tomato, including the role of sterols in fruit development and ripening, and their involvement in biotic and abiotic stress responses.

Selected Publications

Andrade P, Caudepón D, Altabella T, Arró M, Ferrer A, Manzano D.

Complex interplays between phytosterols and plastid development.

Plant Signal Behav. (2017) Oct 9:e1387708. doi: 10.1080/15592324.2017.1387708.


Ferrer A, Altabella T, Arró M, Boronat A.

Emerging roles for conjugated sterols in plants.

Prog. Lipid Res. (2017) 67C: 27-37.


Ramírez-Estrada K, Castillo N, Lara JA, Arró M, Boronat A, Ferrer A., Altabella T.

Tomato UDP-glucose sterol glycosyltransferases: A family of developmental and stress regulated genes that encode cytosolic and membrane-associated forms of the enzyme.

Front. Plant Sci. (2017) 8, 984.


Scheler U, Brandt W, Porzel A, Rothe K, Manzano D, Božić D, Papaefthimiou D, Balcke GU, Henning A, Lohse S, Marillonnet S, Kanellis AK, Ferrer A, Tissier A.

Elucidation of the biosynthesis of carnosic acid and its reconstitution in yeast.

Nat. Commun. (2016) 7: 12942.


Manzano D, Andrade P, Caudepón D, Altabella T, Arró M, Ferrer A.

Suppressing Farnesyl diphosphate synthase alters chloroplast development and triggers sterol-dependent induction of jasmonate- and Fe-related responses.

Plant Physiol. (2016) 172: 93–117.


Ramírez-Estrada K, Altabella T, Onrubia M, Moyano E, Notredame C, Osuna L, Van den Bossche R, Goossens A, Cusidó RM, Palazón J.

Transcript profiling of jasmonate-elicited Taxus cells reveals a beta-phenylalanine-CoA ligase

Plant Biotech. J. (2015) 14: 85-96.


Laranjeira S, Amorim-Silva V, Esteban A, Arró M, Ferrer A, Tavares RM, Botella MA, Rosado A, Azevedo

Arabidopsis squalene epoxidase 3 (SQE3) complements SQE1 and is important for embryo development and bulk squalene epoxidase activity.

Mol Plant. (2015) 8: 1090-1102.


Renato M, Boronat A, Azcón-Bieto J.

Respiratory processes in non-photosynthetic plastids

Front Plant Sci. (2015) 6: 496.


Capel C, Fernández del Carmen A, Alba JM, Lima-Silva V, Hernández-Gras F, Salinas M, Boronat A, Angosto T, Botella MA, Fernández-Muñoz R, Granell A, Capel J, Lozano R.

Wide-genome QTL mapping of fruit quality traits in a tomato RIL population derived from the wild-relative species Solanum pimpinellifolium L.

Theor Appl Genet. (2015) 128: 2019-2035.


Hernández-Gras F, Boronat A.

A hydrophobic proline-rich motif is involved in the intracellular targeting of temperature-induced lipocalin.

Plant Mol Biol. (2015) 88: 301-311.


Rodríguez-Concepción M, Boronat A.

Breaking new ground in the regulation of the early steps of plant isoprenoid biosynthesis.

Curr Opin Plant Biol. (2015) 25:17-22


Liu Q, Manzano D, Tanić N, Pesic M, Bankovic J, Pateraki I, Ricard L, Ferrer A, De Vos, R, van der Krol S, Bouwmeester H.

Elucidation and in planta reconstitution of the parthenolide biosynthetic pathway.

Metabolic Engineering. (2014) 23: 145-153.


Renato M, Pateraki I, Boronat A, Azcón-Bieto J.

Tomato fruit chromoplasts behave as respiratory bioenergetic organelles during ripening.

Plant Physiol. (2014) 166: 920-933.