Chapter

Advances in Molecular Breeding Toward Drought and Salt Tolerant Crops

pp 669-700

Current Status Of Breeding Tomatoes For Salt And Drought Tolerance

  • Majid R. FooladAffiliated withDepartment of Horticulture, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Abstract

Salinity and drought are among the most challenging environmental constraints to crop productivity worldwide. The cultivated tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill., is moderately sensitive to both of these stresses throughout its ontogeny, including during seed germination, seedling emergence, vegetative growth and reproduction. Limited variation exists within the cultivated tomato for abiotic stress tolerance, however, the related wild species of tomato is a rich source of genetic variation which can be used for crop improvement. During the past several decades this variation has been utilized for characterization of physiological and genetic bases of tolerance to different abiotic stresses, including salinity and drought. Abiotic stress tolerance is a complex phenomenon, controlled by more than one gene and influenced by uncontrollable environmental factors. Furthermore, tomato stress tolerance is a developmentally-regulated state-specific phenomenon, such that tolerance at one stage of plant development is independent of tolerance at other stages. This has been demonstrated by analysis of response and correlated response to selection as well as identification of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) conferring tolerance at different stages. Transgenic approaches also have been employed to gain a better understanding of the genetic and physiological bases of salt and, to a lesser degree, drought tolerance in tomato, and to develop transgenic plants with improved stress tolerance. However, despite considerable traditional genetics and physiological research as well as contemporary molecular marker and transgenic studies in tomato, there is yet no report of any commercial cultivar of tomato with salt or drought tolerance. To achieve this goal, cooperation among plant geneticists, physiologists, molecular biologists and breeders engaged in tomato stress tolerance is imperative. In this chapter, I review the recent progresses in genetics and breeding of salt and drought tolerance in tomato and discuss the prospects for developing commercial cultivars with stress tolerance

Keywords

breeding drought stress drought tolerance gene mapping genetic engineering genetic transformation quantitative trait loci (QTL) salt stress salt tolerance transgenic plants