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Vineland to incorporate rugose resistance into Canadian-bred tomatoes


July 2, 2021
By Greenhouse Canada

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Travis Banks, Director, Plant Variety Development at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is working on collaborative efforts to identify rugose-resistant genes. Photo credit: Vineland

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre has been working on incorporating resistance to the tomato brown rugose fruit virus to their Canadian-bred tomato program.

Since 2014, the research centre’s tomato-on-the-vine (TOV) breeding program has been geared towards developing high-yielding varieties with improved flavour and production traits adapted to Canada’s climate and consumer preferences. In 2019, the program released three TOV varieties distributed by Eminent Seeds.

That same year, the research centre began work on breeding resistance to the tomato brown rugose fruit virus, which first emerged in 2014 and has since been reported worldwide.

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“Our rugose project plans to identify a source of resistance to the virus and then develop a genetic marker – laboratory-tested – that will allow us to quickly breed rugose resistance into our tomato lines,” said Travis Banks, Vineland’s director of plant variety development.

The Vineland team is currently involved in two separate efforts to identify rugose resistance.

The first is a collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to screen hundreds of diverse wild tomato lines from Vineland’s germplasm collection.

The second is a collaboration with a group of international breeding organizations to screen a large set of germplasm in Europe and Asia. Coordinated by Eminent Seeds, this collaboration has already identified promising sources of rugose resistance and have been integrated into Vineland’s breeding program to add resistance to their Canadian-adapted TOVs.

“Our intention is that all Vineland-bred tomatoes will have rugose resistance. Right now we are working to add resistance to our three commercial varieties and will include resistance in our future releases,” says Banks.

“Identifying a source of resistance takes one to two years.  We can add resistance to a variety in under two years. Following this, we will need to trial the rugose-resistant lines with producers to ensure that the improved varieties perform as well as the originals, before widespread release.”

This TOV research breeding program is funded through AAFC, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“Industry and government have been clear that addressing this new disease is a top priority. Vineland is working as quickly as possible and Ontario-adapted TOVs from our breeding program with rugose resistance are on the horizon,” said Banks.

With files from: Vineland Research and Innovation Centre