A study that began in mid-2021 and ended earlier this year allowed researchers from the Ceja de Selva Research Institute for Sustainable Development (INDES-CES) of the Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza National University (UNTRM) to identify wild tomato plants from the Amazon region that are resistant to the water deficit, an issue exacerbated by climate change, as well as to pests and heavy metals.
Jose Tejada Alvarado, the lead researcher of the study, member of INDES-CES, and professor of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at UNTRM, said that they had collected several Solanaceae or wild tomatoes in the provinces of Bagua, Chachapoyas, and Rodríguez de Mendoza, in the Amazonas department of Peru, for this study.
The wild species they collected included Datura stramonium, known to local farmers as chamico; Solanum sisymbriifolium, known as carbincho; Solanum quitoense, known as chila, and Cyphomandra betacea, known as tree tomato. In total, they collected ten wild species.
"These wild species thrive in dry climate conditions and are resistant to pests. They also show good tolerance to heavy metals such as cadmium. They grow on the edges of fields and roads without any problems," he stated.
The aim of the study was to evaluate the morphophysiology and productivity of tomato shoots grafted onto the aforementioned wild Solanaceae. The plants were grown in a greenhouse under water-deficient conditions to measure their responsiveness to this determinant of crop development. The development of the grafts, their biochemical behavior, yield, and quality of the fruits were also evaluated.
"The results showed that tomato plants grafted onto Datura stramonium or chamico had the best morphophysiological behavior under deficient irrigation," he revealed.
In addition to chamico, carbincho also responded well to water stress and even better to pest pressure. It also had a greater tolerance to heavy metals, according to the researcher.
"The tomatoes grown on these two wild varieties showed a similar size to commercial tomatoes, a good diameter, a better Brix quality, and a nice bright color. The fruits also showed no deformities, making them a qualitative alternative for growers," the researcher stated.