This episode is an introduction to tomatoes, popular fruits that provide great variation to the eye and palate, as well as the foundation of many recipes. Surprisingly, tomatoes are fragile fruits and the plants can be difficult to grow. They are under constant attack from pests and pathogens, and new varieties must deliver profits for growers and beautiful, flavorful fruits for industry and the consumer.
Tomato improvement is happening in several ways. Dr. Sam Hutton is an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center outside of Tampa, FL. Dr. Hutton is a traditional breeder that uses molecular tools to speed development of new cultivars for Florida growers. He talks about the origins of tomato, it’s domestication, and the current breeding priorities. He also discusses the challenges to the industry and future opportunities.
The second part of the podcast is Dr. Diana Horvath form Two Blades Foundation. Dr. Horvath discusses the BS2 transgenic tomato. The plant has been engineered with a gene from pepper that confers resistance to bacterial diseases. These diseases profoundly affect yields, and require use of anti-microbial compounds in both conventional and organic production. Adoption of the BS2 tomato could increase yields for farmers, decrease production costs, and require fewer pesticides.
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