Authors: M. R. Ercolano, A. Di Donato, W. Sanseverino, M. Barbella, A. De Natale & L. Frusciante
Publication: Horticulture Research
Date: July 2020
Native to South America, the tomato is now grown almost worldwide. During its domestication and improvement, important selection signatures were fixed in certain agronomic and adaption traits. Such traits include fruit morphology, which became a major target for selection over the centuries. However, little is known about precisely when some mutations arose and how they spread through the germplasm. For instance, elongated fruit variants, originating both via mutations in SUN and OVATE genes, may have arisen prior to domestication or during tomato cultivation in Europe. To gain insights into the tomato admixture and selection pattern, the genome of two tomato herbarium specimens conserved in the Herbarium Porticense (PORUN) was sequenced. Comparison of the DNA of herbarium samples collected in Italy between 1750 and 1890 with that of living tomato accessions yielded insights into the history of tomato loci selection. Interestingly, the genotype of the more recent sample (LEO90), classified in 1890 as the oblungum variety, shows several private variants in loci implicated in fruit shape determination, also present also in wild tomato samples. In addition, LEO90, sampled in the nineteenth century, is genetically more distant from cultivated varieties than the SET17 genotype, collected in the eighteenth century, suggesting that elongated tomato varieties may originate from a cross between a landrace and a wild ancestor. Findings from our study have major implications for the understanding of tomato migration patterns and for the conservation of allelic diversity and loci recovery.