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From Farm to Fork: TRADITOM research project brings together scientists and farmers

New EU-funded research initiative aims to valorise genetic diversity stored in traditional European tomato varieties

Tomato is the second most consumed vegetable in the EU and a major dietary source of many nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. Modern tomato breeding has resulted in uniform, high-yielding tomato cultivars, whose cultivation is wide-spread and has progressively replaced the use of traditional varieties. The strong focus on yield and pathogen resistance has resulted in a loss of taste in modern cultivars, a general complaint of European consumers. The aim of the EU-funded research project TRADITOM is to valorise the genetic diversity stored in traditional tomato varieties in order to protect them from genetic erosion and the replacement by more productive modern cultivars. TRADITOM is a multidisciplinary translational, multi-actor research project bringing together scientists working in academia, local farmers communities, consumer experts and small seed companies that have preserved the local germplasm. Genetic, epigenetic and phenotypic variability and knowledge from farms and in public repositories will be concentrated in a TRADITOM database and seed repository. The available genetic and phenotypic variability present in TRADITOM varieties, and the genetic and epigenetic differences from modern cultivars will be assessed. For varieties whose cultivation is not sustainable due to unacceptably low yield and/ or pathogen resistance, novel F1 hybrids will be generated, retaining the quality characteristics of traditional varieties and incorporating yield and disease resistance traits. Finally, traditional varieties and the impact of traditional cultivation methods will be valorised through a thorough characterization of their composition in terms of flavour- and health-related compounds, the identification of consumer preferences, the evaluation of socio-economic factors limiting their market diffusion, and the protection of the most significant case studies through PDO or PGI denominations. The consortium, coordinated by Prof. Antonio Granell (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) comprises a multi-national team of experts from 16 partnering institutions. Equipped with a budget of EUR 4.3 million, TRADITOM started on March 1, 2015 and sets out over the next three years to help the conservation of traditional tomato varieties and to increase their competitiveness in the global and local market.

Keywords

Plant breeding, Plant genetic resources, Biodiversity characterisation, Conservation biology, ecology, genetics, Agrobiodiversity, Traditional tomato varieties, Consumer preferences, Flavour, Aroma, Shelf life, Farmers, Health and nutritional content of fruit, Metabolomics, Genomics

Countries

Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom