Tomatoes On My Mind

I’ve got tomatoes on my mind, so summer must be coming. It seems every where I turn, I’m being reminded of tomatoes. Not the grocery store/hot house kind, but the fresh farmer’s market/back yard-grown kind with juice and flavor so plentiful that it runs down your arms and onto the sunny porch floor where you are having your lunch. At first it was just from my dad that I was hearing about tomatoes. He is an avid gardener, but lives ‘up North’ where the growing season is wedge in between the edges of winter. And although they’ve been having frost until just lately, he’s been reading about vertical gardening (to optimize land usage) and dreaming of his crop of tomatoes.

I guess I haven’t been helping his insanity any with the garden catalogs I share with him, or my tales of season here in the ‘sunny South’. But it seems it isn’t just Dad & me now – the insanity seems to be spreading. Last week the Sunday paper ran a story on bread salads & featured a tomato salad – I am glunking (as it is known in my family) as I type because my mouth is watering at the thought of a good tomato-bread salad. My last trip to my local farmer’s market didn’t result in any tomatoes, but they were selling tomato plants.

Even my BioMed Central e-article alert is conspiring to add to my tomato dreams. As I scrolled through the list of ‘latest research articles in my subject areas’, my eye was naturally caught by the article entitled “Tomato root transcriptome response to a nitrogen-enriched soil patch“. How could it not peak my interest with my summer tomato insanity, my past experiences in expression analyses, and even a brief stint in a rhizobial lab as a technician? And I’m glad my ‘tomato affliction’ lead me to this article – it is highly accessed, well written & interesting, in my opinion. Rather than doing their experiments on well controlled, hydroponically grown tomatoes the authors instead tried to replicate a more ‘real world’ nitrogen-enrichment scenario by using an apparatus to deliver a non-homogeneously localized dose of nitrogen (as often occurs during actual fertilizer application)  & then tracking the transcriptional response of the plants to it. I don’t know that I found any of the the publication’s results surprising, or unexpectedly enlightening, but I did like the way they did their controls & experiments. I also really liked the way that they explained their experiments. If you take a look at the paper (it is free to access), check out figure 1a. Some might say that the image is simplistic, but it so perfectly explains the key aspect of the experiment – what I called the ‘non-homogeneously localized dose of nitrogen’ which isn’t all that specific of a description on my part. In an instant this simple image endows so much understanding to the reader – there is no extraneous jargon, verbiage,  or detail to slow one’s comprehension of the meaning. Figure 1a is elegant because of its simplicity and ease of absorption, in my opinion. This level of presentation is rare in research publications, which are often so dry that to all but the most interested they are a plow. Why is simplicity so valued in ‘little black dresses’, but not communication? (Sorry, I’ve digressed from my tomato insanity to a different bee in my bonnet – I’ll try to get back on track…)

If you too are dreaming of summer vacation & all that it might have in store, check out the article cited below for a science geek bite of fresh tomato & ENJOY!

ResearchBlogging.orgRuzicka, D., Barrios-Masias, F., Hausmann, N., Jackson, L., & Schachtman, D. (2010). Tomato root transcriptome response to a nitrogen-enriched soil patch BMC Plant Biology, 10 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1471-2229-10-75

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