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Peru: INIA to create a tree-tomato gene bank in 2014

Im 2014, The National Institute of Agrarian Innovation (INIA) in Huaral (Lima), will install the first tree tomato gene bank to later promote its agribusiness use.

Engineer Alfonso Reynaga, director of the EEAD, explained that the gene bank would be created thanks to an agreement with INIA Chile and other institutions such as Bolivia's PROINPA, ICARDA (International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas) and CIAT (International Centre for Tropical Agriculture).

The creation of the bank is also part of the "Development and Evaluation of Lycopersicon spp. genetic resources to be used in the improvement of Solanaceae against biotic and abiotic stresses" project. This project seeks to preserve gene collections of wild tomato species in order to investigate them and group them by features, as well as gathering the tomato genes that are tolerant to water stress, high temperatures and pathogen infection.

He said that INIA researchers have identified 10 promising sequences of the fruit out of the 190 tomato sequences collected from the wild in Huancayo (Junín), Huanuco, Cajamarca and Arequipa. By the end of the year all the 190 accessions collected should be identified and classified.

Agro industrial potential 
He explained that one of the main problems of the tree tomato is its vulnerability to diseases and pests and that controlling these can amount to 60% of the total investment per hectare. Thus, identifying tolerant and resistant accessions is essential to make their industrial-scale production viable.

"Businessmen are looking for a bittersweet flavour so they prefer yellow or pink tomatoes because they have good flavour and a better pulp. In contrast, the redder the colour the bitter the taste," said Reynaga who also commented that they had obtained good results in the production of jams and yogurts based on orange and yellow tree-tomatoes in the EEAD.

"We are on route to conserve the tree-tomato's genetic material. We have a processed tree tomato cookbook. What we need to do is complete the product's value chain," he added.


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