Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Plant Research
D'Amber Jones - Fort Valley State University
Co-Author(s): Denise Tieman, Dawn Bies, Mark Taylor, and Harry J. Klee, Horticultural Sciences Department, Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Although a large component of tomato fruit taste is sugars, the choice of tomato cultivar and the post-harvest practices implemented by industry are designed to reduce crop loss and lengthen shelf-life and don’t prioritize sweetness. However, because there is a growing recognition that taste and flavor are key components of tomato marketability, greater emphasis is now being placed on improving traits like sugar content. In addition, tomato flavor is also balance of acidity and sugar, plus volatile compounds are for aroma and flavor. Cherry tomatoes generally reach higher sugar concentrations than full-size tomatoes, so they taste sweeter. While the contribution of sugars and acids to flavor are more fully understood, emerging science demonstrates how aroma compounds affect taste attributes. Our goal is to produce better-tasting fruit for consumers as well as high yields for commercial production. We examined sugar and acid levels of crosses between tomato variety FL 8059 and a variety from the closely related small-fruited species Solanum pimpinellifolium, confers a long shelf life (more than four months). Solanum pimpinellifolium was used as one of the parents in the crosses because it has high levels of sugars, acids and aroma volatiles. We tested for soluble solids in the juice using refractometers (the Brix measure) in combination with measuring levels of citric and malic acids and sugars such as fructose and glucose. We also asked consumers to rate the varieties on liking of the tomato’s taste. We also quantified the aroma compounds known to be important for tomato flavor. Consumer liking of tomato was inversely correlated with tomato size. Our plan is to use this data to improve flavor of tomato varieties by using molecular breeding techniques to produce tomatoes with great taste, high yield, shelf life and durability for transportation.
References: Goulet C, Kamiyoshihara Y, Lam N, Richard T, Taylor M, Tieman D, Klee HJ. 2015. Divergence in the Enzymatio Activities of a Tomato and Solanum pennellii Alcohol Acetyltransferase Impacts Fruit Volatile Composition. Molecular Plant. 8: 153-162; Klee, HJ. 2010. Improving the flavor of fresh fruits: genomics, biochemistry and biotechnology. New Phytologist 187:44-56.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This study was supported, in part, by grants from NSF HRD TIP HBCU-UP #1238789 awarded to Sarwan Dhir, PhD, Director of the Center for Biotechnology, Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, GA
Faculty Advisor: Sarwan Dhir, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: Design the experiment, collect the samples and data analysis, prepare the presentation.