Exploring natural variation in sucrose metabolism to improve tomato growth and development at sub-optimal temperature
The harvestable yield of sub-tropical crops such as tomato is quite high when grown under highly controlled conditions in greenhouses in the Netherlands (temperate climate), but it also requires high energy input. The cost for energy input in such greenhouses can take up to 25% of total cost production, in addition to the detrimental effect to the environment. In this PhD project, we set out to explore the natural variation in sucrose metabolism to improve tomato growth and development at sub-optimal temperature (16℃ - SOT vs with the control temperature 22 ℃). We observed that the wild species tomato Solanum arcanum LA385, first collected in Peru at 2.500m above sea level, could acclimate better to the SOT compared to the control tomato cultivar Moneymaker. Our results show that this is associated with higher sucrose metabolism and more efficient sucrose-hydrolyzing enzymes in the wild species. Specific alleles of sucrose synthases and invertases, enzymes involved in sucrose metabolism, present in wild tomato are excellent tools in breeding programs to improve tomato growth and development at SOT.