Plant breeders are challenged with sustaining global crop improvements. Is there a limit to crop yield? This project will address this central question using processing tomatoes as a model for a mechanized crop. By integrating in a single web-based platform of ‘Phenom Networks’ a broad germplasm base, deep phenotypes, and multiple genome sequences of tomato species, we will identify the genes and mechanisms that dictate crop productivity and implement them in the creation of next generation F1 hybrids. Our work is founded on our years of efforts to establish the following integrated genetic pillars: 1) The tomato genome revealed SNPs for broader marker-assisted selection between cultivated parents and untapped diversity from closely-related red-fruited ancestors. We will develop new elite parental lines into which all discovered traits will be introduced. 2) We will enrich the narrow genetic base of modern processing tomato by pyramiding recessive, additive, dominant and overdominant QTL from six wild species introgression lines (ILs) and field-test them in diverse environments. 3) By producing hybrids with ‘recessive’ deleterious mutants we have identified heterosis genes that increase yield by ~50%; these will be combined with the IL QTL. 4) Finally, we will focus on newly discovered “stability QTL” that significantly improve the reproducibility of yield effects by canalizing this phenotype in spite of environmental perturbations. This multi-faceted integrated tomato breeding effort will unite classical and genomics assisted methods with statistical genetics to demonstrate that yield barriers of the leading commercial hybrids are only there to be broken. We will clone the genes responsible for yield, domestication, heterosis, epistasis and canalization and explore their molecular action. I expect that the breeding concepts and methods developed through this project will lead the way to increased productivity of crops that are important for global food security.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call