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TomGEM: Improving yield and quality of tomato varieties and horticultural management practices in the face of climate change

Launch of the new EU research initiative “TomGEM” with a total budget of €5.6 million in March. The Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse is coordinating a research consortium that brings together 18 partner institutions from Europe, Argentina and Taiwan.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential components of a healthy diet and are part of our everyday meals. For instance, fleshy fruits such as tomatoes, oranges or cherries provide an important source of vitamins, minerals, fibres and antioxidants. However, in the face of rapidly changing and increasingly extreme climate conditions, there is a need to design new strategies aimed at maintaining high yields of fruit and vegetables produced in unprecedented environmental conditions. An important objective of breeders is therefore to select varieties with a better fitness to adverse conditions, and to limit environmental impacts on crop production and quality by optimising genotypes and horticultural management practices. Against this backdrop the recently launched project TomGEM sets out to design new strategies to maintain high yields of fruit and vegetables produced in harsh temperature conditions, using tomato as a reference fleshy fruit crop. Funded by the European Union with a total budget of €5.6 million over the next 4 years, TomGEM will consider all developmental processes contributing to yield and to implement trans-disciplinary approaches to investigate the impact of high temperatures on these traits. “Fruit production is determined by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors, as well as by horticultural management practices. So if we gain a better understanding of these factors, we will be able to translate scientific insight into practical strategies for handling the interactions between genotype, environment and management, and to thus offer holistic solutions to the challenge of increasing food quality and productivity in the face of global warming”, says Prof. Mondher Bouzayen from Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse and TomGEM coordinator underlining the overall objective of the project. A large part of the research activities of the consortium consisting of 18 partner institutions from Europe, Argentina and Taiwan will deal with the mining of a vast range of genetic resources to identify cultivars/genotypes displaying yield stability under heat stress conditions and to uncover loci/genes controlling flower initiation, pollen fertility and fruit set. Once these loci/genes are characterized, the ultimate goal will be to design strategies for pyramiding the favourable versions of these loci into a single genotype that can serve as parent line in tomato breeding. However, high yield and elevated temperatures can be detrimental to quality traits. Therefore, TomGEM will also tackle the issue of fruit quality under elevated temperatures in order to come up with innovative breeding and management strategies that will provide tomato producers with commercial varieties ensuring high yield and fruit quality under extreme heat for a broad range of geographic regions. The partners in TomGEM at a glance: Argentina Universidad de Buenos Aires Bulgaria Maritsa Vegetable Crops Research Institute France Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse SAS Rougeline Germany European Research and Project Office GmbH Max Planck Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der Wissenschaften e.V. Italy Alma Seges Soc. Cop. Biotecgen SRL Università degli studi di Napoli Federico II Spain Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas Enza Zaden España S.L. Fundación Cajamar Comunidad Valenciana Taiwan AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center National Taiwan University UK John Innes Centre Royal Holloway and Bedford New College Norfolk Plant Sciences Ltd Contact: Coordinator Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse Prof. Mondher Bouzayen Email: bouzayen@ensat.fr Phone: +33 534323871 Project Management European Research and Project Office GmbH Dr Verena Peuser Email: v.peuser@eurice.eu Phone: +49 30 374415-832

Keywords

TomGEM; fruits; vegetables; climate change; genotype; environment; management; tomato

Countries

Argentina, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Taiwan, United Kingdom

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European Research and Project Office GmbH - Eurice

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