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  • Author or Editor: Sitheswary Logendra x
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It was proposed to study and develop a system for producing salad vegetables on a space station. To this end a `Salad Machine' was designed to act as a controlled environment growth chamber within which various plants will be grown on a continuous and predictable basis such that crew members will periodically have available the ingredients of a “normal” salad. Within this framework we studied the enclosed environment production of tomatoes.

Forty-five tomator cultivars were screened in a greenhouse and four were selected for further evaluation. The criteria for selection were total plant yield, fruit size, fruit quality and the total weight of the fruit on the main stem as compared to the axillary branches. The four selected cultivars were grown in an environmentally controlled chamber (`Salad Machine') at 6 plants/m (volume rather than area is important here). The data collected included: weekly plant height, total daily yield, water use and nutrient uptake.

The continuous production of tomatoes in a small volume using a selected cultivar will be discussed.

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Growing tomato fruits in tissue culture, using ovaries, could be used as a model system to study fruit development and sink strength/activity. Producing a “normal and healthy” fruit is essential in developing this system. Many factors affect the growth and development of the fruit. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of the age of the ovary (i.e., the number of days after pollination) on growth and final fruit size. The results indicate that the fruit size, root development, and uniformity in growth of the fruit were affected by the initial age of the ovary. The older the ovary, the greater was the final fruit size and uniformity. The development of root mass was not affected by the age of the ovary until 7 days of pollination. However, root development was suppressed in ovaries that were of 9 days after pollination. The fruits from younger ovaries were more irregular in shape. All the fruits from ovaries harvested at 9 days after pollination were more uniform and round as compared to other treatments.

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The effect of root mass on tomato fruit size in tissue culture was studied. The root mass of the ovaries was changed either by growing in culture media containing different concentrations of NAA (α– napthaleneacetic acid) or by culturing the ovaries with and without sepals. The root mass increased with a decrease in NAA concentration from 10.0 to 2.5 μM and the ovaries with sepals developed more roots. The tomato fruit size was affected by the root mass. The greater the root mass, the larger was the fruit size. However, the larger fruit size from ovaries cultured with sepals could be attributed either to the presence of more roots (greater absorption of sucrose) or to the sepal (additional carbon fixation by photosynthesis), or to both the sepals and more roots. Moreover, it is possible that the presence of sepals induce root development. These results indicate that the presence of sepals and total root mass are two important factors that influence the fruit size in vitro.

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