KV 1509-093 Elucidating the impact of low temperature storage on tomato fruit flavor; possibilities for genetic improvement

Tomato flavour loss from harvest to consumption has become a priority for tomato industry in developed countries due to the general consumer dissatisfaction with tomato organoleptic quality.

Postharvest practises play an important role in the final flavour quality of tomato. Cold storage at around 12 C is recommended to reduce tomato decay, maintain tomato fruit quality, and avoid chilling injury (CI) symptoms. However, tomatoes are frequently stored below 12 C (retail stores, transportation, household refrigerators, etc.) increasing the severity of CI symptoms. The aim of this proposal is to get a comprehensive insight in the impact of cold storage on tomato flavour, as well as to identify the genetic variation in this response, using an integrated analytical chemistry-genomic-genetic approach. We will first analyse the metabolic changes in established tomato fruit taste and aroma compounds in response to low temperature storage conditions using a small number of genotypes (up to 20). A subset of genotypes will be used in a RNA-Seq analysis to evaluate the transcriptional changes related with the loss of flavour in cold-stored fruit. Finally, the allelic variation in flavour-related candidate genes will be determined and candidate gene haplotypes will be associated with low temperature tolerance. We are convinced that this project will generate a more holistic view on the response of tomato fruit to low temperature storage. This will lead to more effective breeding strategies aimed at improving tomato sensory quality of cold-stored fruits, which would have a great impact for the tomato fruit industry and the consumers.