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Vineland researchers building vitality of greenhouse vegetable market

Vineland researchers are using bioinformatics and specialized crop populations, containing changes mimicking naturally occurring variances, to introduce valuable traits in horticultural crops tailored to regional growth conditions and with broader consumer appeal.

In collaboration with researchers at the University of Toronto and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Vineland scientists are identifying greenhouse tomato and pepper lines that have increased disease tolerance.

University of Toronto researchers recently identified a gene that when turned off, primes the plant’s natural immune system to enhance resistance to a broad range of pathogens. Vineland scientists are searching through their variant tomato and pepper populations to identify plants that have turned off their copy of that gene in order to create new resistance.

In a similar research project, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists identified botrytis resistance in a variant population of a model research plant. The scientists found which change occurred to create this resistance and now Vineland is using that gene information to look in their tomato and pepper variant populations to find botrytis resistance. In addition to their work on developing new disease tolerance for greenhouse vegetables, Vineland is also working towards developing tomatoes with an extended harvest season and identifying vegetables with attributes desired by consumers.

In nature, each plant seed is created with changes to its DNA resulting, in some cases, in a plant with brand new characteristics. Utilizing ‘induced variation’, Vineland researchers are able to speed up this natural process by growing plant populations with thousands of small changes to their DNA. They then identify plants, with new traits of interest, using high throughput DNA sequencing.

The induced variation technique has been in use since the 1920s and Vineland is working to improve it. As the genomes of more crops are sequenced, Vineland’s induced traits can be put to use in other crop plants to benefit growers.

This research is funded through the Growing Forward 2 AgriInnovation Program, with contributions from Genome Canada, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and the Ministry of Research and Innovation.

This article was published in the spring issue of Vineland's newsletter

For more information
Vineland Research
Travis Banks, Research Scientist, Bioinformatics 
T: 905-562-0320 x754 

Publication date: 3/13/2015



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