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  • Author or Editor: David Francis x
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Tomato fruit firmness is a key quality component of tomatoes produced for processing applications. Fruit firmness is generally considered a quantitatively inherited trait. Pericarp firmness of modern tomato cultivars is believed to be derived from a fairly narrow genetic background and is the result of the cumulative effort of numerous breeders over many years. Despite inferior phenotypes, wild species contain loci that can substantially increase tomato fruit quality. In the current study, inheritance of fruit firmness in firm and ultra-firm processing tomato germplasm developed from transgressive segregants of interspecific Lycopersicon esculentum × L. hirsutum and intraspecific L. esculentum crosses was characterized. Large-fruited breeding lines that varied in fruit firmness from soft to firm were identified for genetic analyses. A six-parent diallel of these advanced breeding lines was developed for field trials over multiple locations. Fruit firmness in the resulting 36 lines was determined by measuring fruit elastic properties during fruit puncture and compression. Following loading for compression, stress relaxation was recorded for 15 s. A three-parameter model was used to fit the relaxation curves. There was little correlation between firmness (maximum force) and the three relaxation parameters, i.e., firmness measured the elastic component and the relaxation parameters measured the viscous portions of the texture. General and specific combining ability for firmness derived from the respective genetic backgrounds was determined. Genetic variance components for fruit firmness were estimated using a diallel analysis and narrow sense heritability was measured using parent-offspring regression.

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The economics of processing tomato production are driven by soluble solids content, viscosity, color, and color uniformity of the fruit. Ripening disorders that affect color are a major limitation to the economic success of processing whole-peel and diced products. The causes of ripening disorders are not completely understood, although it is clear that soil nutritional status, weather, plant genetics, and interactions among these variables are important factors. We sampled both soil and fruit from fields in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana and were able to correlate soil fertility properties and fruit color. The correlation between soil properties and fruit color was different for fine- and coarse-textured soils. Fine-textured soils presented more frequent, but weaker, correlations with absolute color and within-fruit color differences when compared with coarse-textured soils. For fine-textured soils, exchangeable K correlated with a measure of within-fruit variation, L* difference (L*diff; r = −0.21, P < 0.01). Other measurements of K nutrition, K·Mg−½ ratio, Kact, and K%CEC, all correlated to the same extent (r = −0.29, P < 0.01). The highest correlations were identified between soil-available P and L* (r = −0.33, P < 0.01) and L*diff (r = −0.31, P < 0.01). In coarse-textured soils, exchangeable K correlated with L* (r = −0.373, P < 0.05), b* (r = −0.49, P < 0.01) and Hue° (r = −0.37, P < 0.05). K·Mg−½ ratio and Kact yielded higher correlation coefficients with absolute color measurements when compared with fine-textured soils. Soil-available P was correlated with L* (r = −0.375, P < 0.05), a* (r = 0.49, P < 0.01), Hue° (r = −0.46, P < 0.01), and C* (r = 0.40, P < 0.01). For coarse soils, K·Mg−½ ratio, Kact, and available P were important properties when the color of tomato fruit is of value. In all cases, higher exchangeable K and P nutrient status had a positive correlation with fruit color. Our sampling could not detect interactions among weather, genetics, and soil, and further work will be necessary to clearly describe the role of interactions in determining fruit quality in tomatoes.

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Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) and Phytophthora infestans (late blight) in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) have a worldwide distribution and are known to cause substantial disease damage. Sw-5 (derived from S. peruvianum) and Ph-3 (derived from S. pimpinellifolium) are, respectively, TSWV and late blight resistance genes. These two genes are linked (within 5 cM on several maps) in repulsion phase near the telomere of the long arm on chromosome 9. The tomato lines NC592 (Ph-3) and NC946 (Sw-5) were crossed to develop an F2 population and subsequent inbred generations. Marker-assisted selection (MAS) using three polymerase chain reaction-based codominant markers (TG328, TG591, and SCAR421) was used in F2 progeny with the goal of selecting for homozygous coupling-phase recombinant lines. From 1152 F2 plants, 11 were identified with potential recombination events between Ph-3 and Sw-5; of those, three were male sterile (ms-10). F3 progeny were generated from the remaining eight F2 recombinants, and resistance to both pathogens, or Ph-3 and Sw-5 in coupling phase, was confirmed in three of those. Recombination was suppressed fivefold in our F2 population to 1.11 cM between genes when compared with published maps of the same region. However, MAS was an efficient tool for selecting the desirable recombination events for these two pathogen resistance genes.

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Tomato is an important cash crop in many developing countries. However, smallholder farmers often lack access to improved cultivars and breeding programs to develop locally adapted cultivars are limited. Participatory crop improvement (PCI) approaches can be used to increase farmer access to improved cultivars. In this project, we used the mother and baby trial (MBT) design to introduce and evaluate tomato cultivars in three villages in the Morogoro Region of Tanzania. Mother trials were conducted in seven environments within the three villages, and variance partitioning revealed significant genetic effects for all traits measured with h 2 ranging from 0.74 to 0.90 for yield and disease reaction, respectively. In baby trials, farmers provided qualitative rankings of cultivars for 16 characteristics, including vigor, yield, harvest period, diseases, insect damage, fruit quality, and salability. Results from baby trials indicated that introduced cultivars were locally acceptable to farmers, except for traits related to marketability. Outcome Mapping was used to evaluate progress in each of the three villages and results suggested that high stakeholder participation levels could predict future adoption of introduced cultivars. Our findings provide a framework for evaluating, selecting, and breeding tomato and other horticultural crops in developing countries using the MBT design for PCI.

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Bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) are responsible for widespread yield losses, especially in humid growing environments. Chromosome 11 of tomato contains genes that modulate resistance to several prominent tomato pathogens, including bacterial spot caused by Xanthomonas spp., gray leaf spot caused by Stemphylium spp., Fusarium wilt caused by race 2 of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici, and tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) caused by begomoviruses. Major resistance loci are quantitative trait locus 11 (QTL-11) and Xv3/Rx4 for bacterial spot, Sm for gray leaf spot, I2 for Fusarium wilt, and Ty-2 for TYLCV. Marker-assisted selection was used to select for rare recombination events that combined these resistance loci into a linked cassette that can be inherited together in future crosses. A pedigree breeding strategy was used with marker-assisted selection and used to identify a novel coupling of Xv3/Rx4 and Ty-2. Recombination between the two genes was estimated as 0.056 cM, demonstrating that effective combinations of resistance can be established using publicly available germplasm. Progeny from the recombinant plants were screened using inoculated seedling trials to confirm resistance. The recombinants identified maintained resistance levels similar to the resistant controls. Trial results suggest that the trait markers on chromosome 11 are tightly linked to the respective resistance loci and are effective for selecting plants with resistance to the target diseases.

Open Access