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April 18th, 2018 / ISAAA, US

Scientists from the Wageningen University & Research have discovered a wild tomato species from the Galapagos Islands that is resistant to a wide range of insect pests. The wild tomato is closely related to the cultivated tomato, making the resilience easier to interbreed into the latter and ultimately make it resistant to many different types of insects.

Cultivated tomatoes are more vulnerable to pest and diseases, having lost their natural resistance in the process of breeding. Scientists are working to reverse this by reintroducing resistance from wild relatives through breeding, but very distant relatives of the cultivated tomato have yet to be successfully interbred to get the required traits. The wild tomato from the Galapagos Islands, however, is genetically very similar to the cultivated tomato, and its resistance is coded within a single chromosome, which should make crossbreeding into existing plants much easier.

Ben Vosman, scientist at Wageningen University and Research said, “We worked with samples of the wild tomato species Solanum galapagense from a gene bank. The first discovery was that this tomato species is resistant to whiteflies. Then it turned out that it is actually resilient to a lot of other insects too, including the green peach aphid and caterpillars of the beet armyworm. That was a very pleasant surprise. Read more