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Wencai Yang and David M. Francis

The lack of resistance to bacterial diseases increases both the financial cost and environmental impact of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) production while reducing yield and quality. Because several bacterial diseases can be present in the same field, developing varieties with resistance to multiple diseases is a desirable goal. Bacterial spot (caused by four Xanthomonas Dowson species) and bacterial speck (caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato Young, Dye and Wilkie) are two economically important diseases of tomato with a worldwide distribution. The resistance gene Pto confers a hypersensitive response (HR) to race 0 strains of the bacterial speck pathogen. The locus Rx3 explains up to 41% of the variation for resistance to bacterial spot race T1 in field trials, and is associated with HR following infiltration. Both Pto and Rx3 are linked in repulsion phase on chromosome 5. We made a cross between two elite breeding lines, Ohio 981205 carrying Pto and Ohio 9834 carrying Rx3, to develop an F2 population and subsequent inbred generations. Marker-assisted selection (MAS) was applied to the F2 progeny and to F2:3 families in order to select for coupling-phase resistance. Thirteen homozygous progeny from 419 F2 plants and 20 homozygous families from 3716 F3 plants were obtained. Resistance was confirmed in all selected families based on HR in greenhouse screens using bacterial speck race 0 and bacterial spot race T1 isolates. Resistance to bacterial spot race T1 was confirmed in the field for 33 of the selected families. All selected families were also resistant to bacterial speck in the field. MAS was an efficient tool to select for desirable recombination events and pyramid resistance.

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Christopher C. Gunter and David Francis

Physiological disorders affect both the appearance and nutritional quality of processing tomatoes intended for whole-peel and diced products. The cause of color disorders, such as yellow shoulder disorder (YSD), involves an interaction between plant genotype and the environment. Soil factors that correlate with the incidence of YSD are soil K, K:Mg ratios, organic matter, and phosphorus. Fields with an organic matter above 3.5% have a lower incidence of YSD. Progress in developing an integrated crop management system that growers and processors can use to profitably improve quality and nutritional value while reducing color disorders of tomato has been made. Decision tools for managing color disorders have been developed. Varieties of tomato differ in their susceptibility to color disorders; thus, variety use may offer growers a strategy to manage fields with low potassium, phosphorus, or low organic matter. Soil K application through drip irrigation was effective when applied at full bloom when the plants were most actively growing. Trials conducted in Indiana and Ohio during the 2003 and 2004 growing seasons demonstrated that weekly K application as a batch injection or solid application improved fruit color and reduced internal whitening. The effect of K addition is toward improved hue and L (lower values), but that trend is not always statistically significant and variety-specific responses are observed. Environmental factors for this response are explored. Managing this complex color disorder will entail minimizing risk of incidence, rather than preventative or curative applications.

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Christopher Gunter, David Francis, and Alba Clivati McIntyre

Yellow shoulder disorder (YSD) is a physiological disorder of processing tomato that affects both the appearance and nutritional quality of the fruit. This disorder reduces the suitability of fruit intended for the whole-peeled and diced product markets. The YSD involves an interaction between plant genotype and the environment. A number of soil factors have been related to the incidence of YSD, including organic matter, phosphorous, K/Mg ratios, and soil K. Varieties of tomatoes differ in their susceptibility to color disorders, thus variety selection offers growers one strategy to manage this color disorder. The use of supplemental K application at a time when plants are blooming and actively growing offers a second strategy for management of YSD. To this end, a field study was conducted at the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Program in southwestern Indiana to study the effects of different sources of K on the color and quality of tomato fruit. Potassium chloride, potassium nitrate, and potassium sulfate were applied at first flowering in a solid, broadcast application. Appropriate controls were used to balance the nutrients supplied in addition to K. Supplemental K, regardless of source, improved fruit hue, though the trend was not always statistically significant between treatments. Variety specific effects were observed. This is a complex disorder and its management will entail minimizing risk of incidence through careful selection of variety and field location.

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Eileen Kabelka, Wencai Yang, and David M. Francis

An inbred backcross (IBC) population derived from Lycopersicon hirsutum LA407 and L. esculentum was evaluated in replicated field trials to assess its potential for the improvement of red-fruited tomatoes. Significant phenotypic variation among genotypes was detected for the hue (tint), L (darkness), and chroma (saturation) of color. Significant effects due to environment and genotype × environment interactions also were observed. One superior inbred backcross line from this population, IBL 2349, was used to develop an F2 population and to explore the genetic basis of color. Two independent L. esculentum quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with improved color were identified based on linkage to markers mapping to chromosome 4 and chromosome 11. Epistatic interactions were identified between the two L. esculentum loci. Unexpected epistatic interactions also were identified between L. esculentum loci and an LA407 introgression on chromosome 7 present within IBL 2349. The two L. esculentum QTL and the epistatic interactions were confirmed in replicated trials with F3 and F4 families. The loci identified in this study and their epistatic interactions may provide additional tools for the improvement of red-fruited tomatoes in breeding programs.

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Erik J. Sacks and David M. Francis

The genetic and environmental variation for flesh color of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) fruit was quantified using 41 red-fruited breeding lines, open-pollinated cultivars, and hybrids that are representative of the diversity of tomatoes grown for whole-peel processing in the midwestern and eastern United States and Ontario, Canada. Objective color measurements were made for 2 years from replicated experiments with 2 to 4 blocks per year. Genotypes differed significantly in lightness value (L*), saturation (chroma), and hue angle. Variation within fruit and among fruit in plots accounted for more than 75% of the environmental variation for the color traits. The crimson locus (ogc) accounted for less than one-third of the variation in fruit color among genotypic means, and explained 18% to 27% of the genotypic variation for L*, chroma, and hue. Estimates of variance components were used to develop sampling strategies for improving selection efficiency. Genotypes were identified that may be useful for studying genetic differences that lead to quantitative variation for fruit color in red-fruited populations of tomato.

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Matthew Kleinhenz, Annette Wszelaki, Sonia Walker, Senay Ozgen, and David Francis

Successful organic farming requires synchronizing soil-based processes affecting nutrient supply with crop demand, variable among and within crops. We report here on two studies conducted in transitional- (TO) and certified-organic (CO) systems containing subplots that, annually, were either amended with compost or not amended prior to vegetable crop planting. Dairy-manure compost was added at rates providing the portion of a crop's anticipated nitrogen requirement not provided by a leguminous rotation crop and/or carryover from previous compost application. In the TO study, potato (2003), squash (2004), green bean (2005), and tomato (2006) were planted in main-season plots in open fields and high tunnels, and beet, lettuce, radish, spinach, and swiss chard were planted in high tunnels in early spring and late fall. Long-term CO open-field plots (±compost) were planted to multiple varieties of lettuce, potato, popcorn, and processing tomato in 2004–2006. Drip irrigation was used in all TO plots and CO lettuce and processing tomato plots. Treatment effects on crop physical and biochemical variables, some related to buyer perceptions of crop quality, were emphasized in each study. Yield in TO, compost-amended plots exceeded yield in unamended plots by 1.3 to 4 times, with the greatest increases observed in high-tunnel-grown mesclun lettuce and the smallest response observed in potato. Similar results were found in CO plots, although compost effects differed by crop and variety. The data suggest that: 1) compost application and the use of specific varieties are needed to maximize yield in organic vegetable systems in temperate zones, regardless of age; and 2) production phase management may influence buyer-oriented aspects of crop quality.

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Mark A. Bennett, David M. Francis, and Elaine M. Grassbaugh

Ethephon (2-chloroethyl phosphonic acid) has been widely used under field conditions as a growth regulator to trigger the ripening of processing tomatoes prior to mechanical harvesting. Recent interest in whole-peeled and diced tomato products has raised questions about ethephon rates, and possible split applications for top quality. This 3-year field study tested two commercial cultivars of processing tomatoes (`OH8245' and `P696') and the effect of various ethephon applications on fruit firmness, color uniformity, and peeling variables. Transplants were established in mid to late May of 1996–1998 on raised beds in single rows at the OSU/OARDC Veg. Crops Branch in Fremont, Ohio. Ethrel applications for each cultivar were: 0, 0.58, 0.58 × 2 applications, 1.17, 1.17 × 2 applications, 1.75, 2.34, 4.68, and 7.02 L·ha–1. Fruit were tested for firmness, color uniformity, pH, titratable acids, and soluble solids. Samples from ethephon treatments of 0, 1.17 × 2 applications, 2.34, 4.68, and 7.02 L·ha–1 were peeled and canned for color inspection and firmness after 18 months storage. Three-year data for red fruit yield showed a typical response to increasing amounts (0 to 7.0 L·ha–1) of applied ethephon. While high rates (4.7 or 7.0 L·ha–1) gave some of the highest red fruit yields, and the greatest percent red fruit values, high rates were also linked with among the lowest fruit solids values. Split application comparisons showed little influence on quality variables examined in this study. However, chroma values were improved (more vivid color) when 2.3 L·ha–1 was applied vs. 1.17 L·ha–1 applied twice. Split applications also tended to produce softer fruit. Our results suggest that single ethephon applications of 1.17 to 2.34 L·ha–1 provide optimal fruit ripening and quality under midwestern U.S. conditions.

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David M. Francis, Sheryl A. Barringer, and Robert E. Whitmoyer

Yellow shoulder disorder (YSD) is characterized by sectors of yellow or green tissue under the peel of uniform ripening tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) fruit. Tissues excised from sectors of fruit expressing YSD, from adjacent red sectors, and from mature green fruit were used to compare the ultrastructural alterations in cells and tissue affected by YSD and to determine whether the disorder is caused by delayed fruit maturation or by aberrant development. Cells from YSD sectors were smaller than those from both adjacent red-ripe tissue and mature green fruit. The smaller cells from the YSD sectors were at a different developmental stage than cells of the adjacent red-ripe tissue. Chromoplasts in red-ripe tissue were more advanced in development than those in YSD sectors or mature green fruit. Using the transition from chloroplast to chromoplast and the degradation of the middle lamella between adjacent cells as developmental markers, the maturity of tissue from YSD sectors appeared to be equal or greater than that of tissue from mature green fruit. However, cell enlargement, which takes place early in fruit development, was retarded in YSD sectors. Therefore, the ultrastructural features of YSD are not compatible with a delayed ripening model for this blotchy ripening disorder. These observations provide a basis for comparing YSD in uniformly ripening tomatoes with other blotchy ripening disorders.

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John R. Stommel, Judith A. Abbott*, David Francis, and Mary J. Camp

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.