Tomato domestication involved agricultural societies from Peru to Mexico

The plants we eat have been domesticated. There are no wild chihuahuas, in the wilderness there are wolves and, likewise, there are no wild big and juicy tomatoes, bread wheat or popcorn maize in the wild. Our forebears modified these species to adapt them to their needs, uses, and tastes. The tomato was domesticated by native American cultures thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, there are few tomato archeological remains and many questions to answer. Although some of these issues have been discussed for decades, most of them still have no final answers. For instance, it has been proposed that the domestication could have been carried out in Mesoamerica, the region comprising Mexico and Central America, or, alternatively, in Peru and Ecuador, but there has been no definitive evidence capable of settling the debate.

The plant genomic group at COMAV, a research institute located in the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain, in collaboration with researchers from The University of Georgia are publishing in Horticulture Research new findings obtained within Varitome, a National Science Foundation funded project (NSF1564366). The whole genome of 628 wild and cultivated plants have been analyzed to unravel some details of the complex American tomato history.

Most of the contemporary cultivated tomato is very similar to the wild Mesoamerican plants (Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme), however, in its domestication there were also involved wild Ecuadorian and Peruvian species (S. pimpinellifolium). This complex scenario has hampered the study of the tomato domestication for decades, but, thanks to a novel statistical analysis developed for this research, it was possible to find out that although the domestication process started with the Mesoamerican materials, it was quite complex.

Read more at eurasiareview.com


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