Deployment of Molecular Markers and Marker-assisted Selection in Tomato Breeding

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  • 1 The Pennsylvania State University, Horticulture, University Park, PA, 16802

In tomato, Lycopersi conesculentum Mill., currently there are >285 known morphological, physiological and disease resistance markers, 36 isozymes, and >1000 RFLPs, which have been mapped onto the 12 tomato chromosomes. In addition, currently there are >162,000 ESTs, of which ∼3.2% have been mapped. Several tomato genetic maps have been developed, mainly based on interspecific crosses between the cultivated tomato and its related wild species. The markers and maps have been used to locate and tag genes or QTLs for disease resistance and other horticultural characteristics. Such information can be used for various purposes, including marker-assisted selection (MAS) and map-based cloning of desirable genes or QTLs. Many seed companies have adopted using MAS for manipulating genes for a few simple morphological characteristics and several vertical disease resistance traits in tomato. However, MAS is not yet a routine procedure in seed companies for manipulating QTLs although it has been tried for a few complex disease resistance and fruit quality characteristics. In comparison, the use of MAS is less common in public tomato breeding programs, although attempts have been made to transfer QTLs for resistances to a few complex diseases. The potential benefits of marker deployment to plant breeding are undisputed, in particular for pyramiding disease resistance genes. It is expected that in the near future MAS will be routine in many breeding programs, taking advantage of high-resolution markers such as SNPs. For quantitative traits, QTLs must be sought for components of genetic variation before they are applicable to marker-assisted breeding. However, MAS will not be a “silver bullet” solution to every breeding problem or for every crop species.

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