Proof breeders messed up flavor

mistercross(z6b Ozarks)June 29, 2012

Just came across an article in Science News about one reason that scientists have found for lack of flavor in modern tomatoes. It isn't the whole story, but there was an unintended consequence to breeding for uniform color in green tomatoes. Dark green shoulders are important.

"The problem is, getting rid of that dark green zone, called green shoulders, turns out to have sabotaged a gene called SIGLK2 that boosts sugar and other sources of flavor in the ripe tomato, Powell and her colleagues report in the June 29 Science. "


"When choosing among generic tomatoes, he recommends going for cherry tomatoes and other little types: "Breeders haven't had as much time to mess them up," he says."

Wow, are some scientists starting to sound like gardeners?

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

It's true that the uniform ripening gene has been introduced into most modern hybrids, which eliminates green shoulders,but that's hybrids that have been the result of human breeding efforts.

But the recommendation to use only cherry tomatoes I think is a bit overboard since there are maybe 15-20,000, maybe 6 to 7,000 available commercially, varieties out there and only a few hundred are F1 hybrids which have been bred, quite honestly, mainly for the large commercial farming industry.

The rest are open pollinated, some heirlooms, some not, and there are many that naturally have the uniform ripening gene and many that don't. Yes, many of the non-F1 ones were also bred, but not many have the uniform ripening gene inserted into the genome, especially the older ones since that gene wasn't known back then.

Taste is both personal and perceptual and there are many variables that play into taste such as where a variety is grown, inground or in containers, kind of soil, if inground, kind of mix used in comtainers, amendments used if any and if so how much and when and what the weather is like in any ONE season when a variety is grown.

But the primary determinants with taste are the genes that a variety has.

The only way that a person will know if he/she likes the taste of a specific variety is to grow it b'c I know I can praise a variety highly and always there's someone who says that they will never grow it again. SOP as long as I've been around.

As for me, there are a few hybrids I really like but most of the now over 3,000 varieties I've grown have been open pollinated and I'll continue mainly with the OP's.

So one doesn't have to go to just cherry tomatoes and small types for taste, as the article suggested, for there are thousands of OP's out there that taste great as I know many here already know. Actually in making that suggestion the article seems to me to be anti-F1 hybrid and not be perhaps up to date on the thousands of great tasting OP's.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Until the last couple years, I was never able to find a tomato that tasted very good on sale in any of the large supermarkets in Southwest Ohio (Kroger, Walmart, Meijer, SuperValu). I think the reason for the recommendation for cherry tomatoes and other small types is meant for those who live in food deserts without access to farmer's markets and upscale grocery stores. One nice unintended consequence of the horrible hybrids in most markets is that Americans are returning to gardening in record numbers, primarily in search of better tomatoes.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 1:07PM
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