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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TRADITOM (Traditional tomato varieties and cultural practices: a case for agricultural diversification with impact on food security and health of European population)
H2020

TRADITOM Report Summary

Project ID: 634561
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TRADITOM (Traditional tomato varieties and cultural practices: a case for agricultural diversification with impact on food security and health of European population)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

TRADITOM is a research and innovation project that focuses on the identification and valorisation of European traditional tomato varieties (landraces) and their cultural practices. The aim of TRADITOM is to provide traditional tomato farmers with a strong science-based knowledge platform on the identity and variability of traditional tomato varieties, which are grown on the farm or available in public repositories, such as the tomato seed banks available within the TRADITOM consortium.
TRADITOM will increase competitiveness of traditional tomato growers in a market that is progressively replacing traditional tomatoes and consequently traditional tomato growers by a small set of modern hybrids cultivated in modern high technology facilities with the corresponding loss in variability and the accompanying complain of consumers for loss of flavour. This loss of fruit quality negatively impacts consumption and healthy nutrition of the European population.

In this context the main objectives of TRADITOM are:
Objective 1: Information and conservation. Build a TRADITOM map and repository where traditional EU tomato varieties, their methods of cultivation, the environmental characteristics of regions where they have been traditionally cultivated are described and seeds are stored. The information gathered and generated during the course of the project, as well as the seeds, will be available to all stakeholders through a website repository (https://traditom.upv.es).
Objective 2: Assessment. Assess the available genotypic and phenotypic variability present in the TRADITOM varieties, obtain the scientific evidence required to identify and distinguish traditional varieties from commercially bred cultivars and effectively enable transfer of materials and information from the project to the community of breeders, growers and consumers.
Objective 3: Improvement. Provide farmers and breeders with new versions of traditional varieties incorporating yield and disease resistance traits without affecting their good sensory characteristics.
Objective 4: Valorisation. Enhance valorisation of the traditional varieties and impact of traditional cultivation methods that improve quality by a thorough characterization of their nutritional and health compound contents, the identification of consumers’ preferences, the evaluation of socio-economic factors limiting their market diffusion, and the protection of the most significant case studies through Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) denominations.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first eighteen months of the project, the TRADITOM partners have taken significant initial steps towards the realisation of the objectives.
In order to reach the first objective (information and conservation), partners have put together the largest collection of European Traditional Tomato varieties by requesting seeds from dispersed seed banks, research laboratories and farmers associations. The current collection exceeds 1500 different varieties. Passport data referring to the regions of cultivation have been collected and a website repository of information and materials established. This has been covered in detail with steadily progress in all tasks in work package 1. The initial aim of 1200 varieties has been exceeded. Half way into the project, some farmers have shown interest in testing some of the accessions after observing the characteristics of the fruits and plants during phenotyping trials. The information platform (https://traditom.upv.es/) has been developed and we plan to open it to the public once the results from the first year phenotyping have been verified and the info translated to produce a user friendly variety catalogue.
The assessment of the genotypic and phenotypic variability in TRADITOM is well advanced and the information valuable for many different applications ranging from variety protection, detection of duplicated varieties, assessing how similar or diverse two varieties are in terms of phenotype or genotype has been produced and will be available in the next few months to the different association of producers and scientists.
As a basis for objective 3 (improvement), a number of activities have been initiated and some are already producing important information on what traditional traits are conserved in the F1 hybrids and which ones are lost depending on the specific cross. Large number of varieties and breeding lines are currently under evaluation in close collaboration between academic and industrial partners to identify the best materials and crosses to increase the resilience of traditional tomatoes while maintaining their traditional flavour. Identification of resistance genes and flanking genes with negative effects on quality is also part of the activities towards this objective that are progressing fast in TRADITOM.
The valorisation is one important objective of TRADITOM and for this we have already established the protocols to evaluate consumer preferences as well as the socioeconomic factors that restrict the commercialization of traditional tomatoes. Identification of a core collection within this first 12 months was necessary to define a subset of the TRADITOM varieties. In depth metabolite profiling will be applied to this subset which will include those accessions representing better the existing variability to define their levels in the different health, nutritional and organoleptic metabolites. We have defined an improved set of those metabolites that will be used as a reference framework for comparing the different varieties. The combined metabolite analyses platform is the most powerful assembled so far for a single crop. This ‘valorization’ will be more profitable if they lead to protection of the PDO or PGI and the close collaboration of the different partners with the producers is the best safeguard that this will be possible. All this is covered in more detail in WP3-6 and 8 below.
All partners conducted a number of experiments according to the detailed work plan, which produced the first insights on the extent of the phenotypic and genotypic variability available and helped to define the core collection. The improved set of health and flavour metabolites will be used to define the varieties in the core collection varieties that will represent different combinations of those metabolites and eventually are preferred by different type of consumers. More important, intensively active cooperation between farmers and scientist is the rule in TRADITOM and the fascination for discovery and the identification of new varieties within the TRADITOM pool that are of interest for the different stakeholders is already occurring. The organization of a number of activities directed to general consumers (consumer tests), chefs (Workshop in Alicia Foundation) and children (Summer School at the UPV) are examples of how TRADITOM reaches out for the appreciation and interest of people from all ages and social backgrounds.
In addition to the scientific work, the partners have taken part in international conferences, local food fairs and informed the public about the vision and mission of the TRADITOM project via social media, press releases or interviews. An external project website has been created (www.traditom.eu) to ensure a smooth workflow and a timely realisation of the tasks, a communication concept and an internal online management platform was set up and efficiently used during the first 18 month to facilitate and enhance the collaborative work within in the consortium.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

TRADITOM is by far the most comprehensive exploration of traditional European tomato varieties programmed so far and it is an exploration done shoulder to shoulder with the traditional farmers in the main cultivation areas in the EU Mediterranean countries. Furthermore, it encompasses activities involving representatives of all stakeholders from growers, breeders, and scientists to food experts, cooks, consumers etc. The joint activities include the active participation in research and research results dissemination and discussion.
Several types of data and materials that are currently been collected and produced in TRADITOM are being managed as initially established. Data and information on traditional tomato varieties have been collected from farmers, public repositories, and published information are currently been centralized in the TRADITOM project web site. In addition, old archives, herbarium samples etc. will be screened for additional information. Information generated by the activities in the different WPs fit in the following classes:
Genotype data to assess variability, variety identification, variety homogeneity, GWAS, etc. The whole set of TRADITOM genotypes (and similarly the epigenotype) data have been obtained using the state-of-the-art Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS) technology on the whole collection using alongside with series of modern varieties as references. Many of these modern varieties have been previously genotyped by GBS and other technologies and many have been re-sequenced, and therefore are being used to validate the results to the highest standards and to position the traditional European varieties in TRADITOM against non-European, old varieties, etc. This represents an unprecedented level of cataloguing/ characterizing of tomato resources with important implications for not only for scientific classification, origin and diversification of the local varieties but also to help define what makes a local variety so special or different from another. Genotyping data currently being analyzed will be essential to verify redundancy in the collection and homogeneity/heterogeneity of local accessions and will be uploaded into the centralized information system so that it will be made available to all partners in the next two month (end of 2016) once the quality of the data has been verified. All data will be made available to the general public/scientific community at the end of the project or as soon as appropriate IP or dissemination issues have been addressed.
Phenotype data, that is all observable characteristics of the varieties with an emphasis in those of interest for consumers and producers (i.e. fruit and agronomic characteristics) for all the varieties in TRADITOM are being carefully examined. Data is currently been curated by the group generating the data and double checked by partners CSIC and UPV. Raw data have been uploaded into the system by the corresponding task leader, max. one week after their collection and verification. These data will range from descriptor information (following IPGRI) for each variety, to metabolite composition, to fruit shelf life. Phenotype and biochemical data is being implemented in a gene browser according to standard procedures developed in the EU-SOL project (www.eu-sol.wur.nl), as previously done in EU-SOL but with a new framework that enables more versatility and adaptation. This information will be first communicated to the traditional farmer associations to valorise their varieties, and to facilitate obtaining quality certificates, and also to make them aware of the possibilities with other varieties. The information is then also made available to the rests of the partners through the different dissemination instruments. In the case of varieties currently not in use by the traditional farmers, all partners will take the appropriate decisions in terms of introducing the variety in production schemes. Data such as the environmental effects on fruit phenotypes or the evolution of metabolite content in response to storage or pre-harvest conditions will be used in decision making and communicated readily to the farmers. Again this close interaction between end-users of the information and the actual producers of the information in the case of participative research in TRADITOM is producing a very positive impact in the way traditional farmers see scientific research and vice-versa how scientist see traditional farming.
Increased resilience of traditional varieties is one of the bottlenecks and often the introduction of disease resistance genes has an effect in fruit quality. By introducing knowledge in the TRADITOM consortium about genes and gene regions important to maintain organoleptic quality we expect to identify / deliver varieties that satisfy both producers and consumers.
Data on new materials, generated as part of the breeding activities in TRADITOM: The phenotypic data associated to the F1 hybrids or the traditional lines carrying disease resistances will be of high interest to the growers, who will participate in the evaluation of those materials and will have direct access to the biochemical composition results as well as the consumers/trained sensory panel results. Some promising results are already emerging from the analysis of the first crosses and in the next few months we are planning to have a joint meeting with the farmers to communicate the results.
Materials and data curation and preservation: Upon project completion and once any IP relevant or publication issues have been taken care of, the data will be linked or uploaded to the Solanaceae Genomics Network website (http://solgenomics.net/) and maintained as the rest of data in this centralized Solanaceae website in addition to the routine curation and maintenance activities in the COMAV and HUJI website. The main TRADITOM germplasm will be located in the facilities of the COMAV (Institute for the Conservation and Improvement of Valencian Agrodiversity). The COMAV germplasm bank was established in 1982 and has been active since then with the support from Polytechnic University of Valencia (permanent staff, utilities and premises) and a long term grant from the Spanish National Institute for Agronomic Research (INIA): ‘Permanent activities to guarantee the sustainable conservation of plant genetic resources’ and make them available to the community.
In summary, we believe that TRADITOM has shown great progress to provide farmers and other stakeholder in the tomato and food fields with a scientifically sound information platform and new materials with increased resilience, all of which will positively impact traditional tomato growers and increase competitiveness in front of modern varieties farmers thus giving a new push to traditional varieties with impact in consumers. Success of TRADITOM will also impact other traditional crops as it can serve as a flagship of the benefits of joint participative research.

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