This project aims to improve and speed up the Key Technologies Biotechnology and Breeding (Genomics of QTLs and their underlying genes, Gene editing) while working towards reducing food losses by improving the shelf life of tomato.
It is estimated that a third of the world food production is lost before it can be consumed. In developing countries this is primarily due to problems in the production and transport chain, while in developed countries it is mostly supermarkets and consumers which discard unsold or overripe food. Land use and greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly reduced by tackling this issue.
Storability of harvested fruits throughout the production chain to the consumer kitchen is often referred to as shelf life. Much research has been done to improve shelf life of tomato but with limited success. This is partially due to the complexity of the processes and genes involved, to the trade-off with flavour and other quality aspects of ripe tomatoes and the lack of genetic diversity for this trait. This project continues on the achievements of an earlier TKI project and aims to improve our understanding of parameters and genes determining shelf life.
Furthermore, we will exploit existing variation by identification of QTLs affecting shelf life or contributing aspects thereof and identify their underlying candidate genes and mutations affecting the shelf life. We will also create and characterize new variation and mutations by the use of CRISPR/Cas-mutagenesis, and develop this technology which will speed up the identification of relevant genes.
Results of this project:
- methods of high-throughput CRISPR/Cas-mutagenesis, which will apply to all current and future CAS variants as well as in other crops, for functional genomics of genes underlying QTLs;
- new knowledge and new genetic variation leading to products, initially tomato cultivars, with improved shelf life will be produced. The accumulated knowledge will be useful throughout the tomato sector and for achieving similar goals in other fruits and vegetables;
- a reduction of food loss in the form of discarded fruit and vegetable.