TOMATO FRUIT QUALITY AND ION STATUS: THE EFFECTS OF SALINITY, PHYTOPHTHORA ROOT ROT AND GENOTYPE

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  • 1 Vegetable Crops Department, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

Tomato Fruit quality can be improved by the use of moderately saline irrigation water. However, decreased fruit yields may occur if the saline treatment is initiated early in plant development or the salt concentration is high. Another concern with the use of saline irrigation water is increased plant susceptibility to disease. Two processing tomato cultivars were grown under low salt (ECa=1.1 ds/m), medium salt (ECa=2.8 ds/m) and high salt (ECa=4.6 ds/m) regimes, and in the presence and absence of Phytophthora parasitica, the casual agent of Phytophthora root rot. Salinity increased Phytophthora root rot severity in UC82B, the susceptible cultivar, but had a limited effect on CX8303, a cultivar known to have a measure of resistance to Phytophthora root rot. Fruit acidity and percent total soluble solids were enhanced in both cultivars by increasing salinity. Infection by P. parasitica increased acidity and soluble solids in UC82B fruit grown under high salt. Sodium and chloride concentrations in tomato fruit increased in a manner proportionate to the salt treatment applied; however, in the absence of disease, fruit Na+ and Cllevels were markedly lower compared to other tissues in the plant, The presence of salt-enhanced Phytophthora root rot in UC82B increased fruit Na+ concentration by almost 100%. Fruit Ca2+ and K+ levels, in contrast, declined moderately with increasing salinity and were not affected by disease.

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