A genome-scale metabolic network reconstruction of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) and its application to photorespiratory metabolism

H. Yuan, C.Y. Maurice Cheung, M.G. Poolman, P.A.J. Hilbers, N.A.W. van Riel

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Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) has been studied extensively due to its high economic value in the market, and high content in health-promoting antioxidant compounds. Tomato is also considered as an excellent model organism for studying the development and metabolism of fleshy fruits. However, the growth, yield and fruit quality of tomatoes can be affected by drought stress, a common abiotic stress for tomato. To investigate the potential metabolic response of tomato plants to drought, we reconstructed iHY3410, a genome-scale metabolic model of tomato leaf, and used this metabolic network to simulate tomato leaf metabolism. The resulting model includes 3410 genes and 2143 biochemical and transport reactions distributed across five intracellular organelles including cytosol, plastid, mitochondrion, peroxisome and vacuole. The model successfully described the known metabolic behaviour of tomato leaf under heterotrophic and phototrophic conditions. The in silico investigation of the metabolic characteristics for photorespiration and other relevant metabolic processes under drought stress suggested that: (i) the flux distributions through the mevalonate (MVA) pathway under drought were distinct from that under normal conditions; and (ii) the changes in fluxes through core metabolic pathways with varying flux ratio of RubisCO carboxylase to oxygenase may contribute to the adaptive stress response of plants. In addition, we improved on previous studies of reaction essentiality analysis for leaf metabolism by including potential alternative routes for compensating reaction knockouts. Altogether, the genome-scale model provides a sound framework for investigating tomato metabolism and gives valuable insights into the functional consequences of abiotic stresses. Significance Statement A genome-scale metabolic model of tomato was reconstructed, which was subsequently used to explore the cellular metabolic characteristics of photorespiration and its interplay with other metabolic processes under drought stressed conditions. The model predicted that the metabolic flux through the MVA pathway under drought conditions significantly differed from that under normal conditions, which gave hints to possible adaptive metabolic responses to drought stresses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-304
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • drought
  • flux balance analysis
  • genome-scale metabolic model
  • photorespiration
  • reaction essentiality
  • Solanum lycopersicum L
  • tomato


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