Effect of fruit development on the germination and vigor of high lycopene tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seeds
Lycopene is a carotenoid compound correlated with reduced risk of human diseases such as prostate cancer; consequently, tomatoes with elevated levels of lycopene are desirable in the human diet. Tomato genes such as dark green (dg) and high pigment (hp-1 and hp-2) that increase carotenoid content are available. However, their use in commercial cultivars is limited because of the undesirable pleiotropic effects such as reduced plant growth and low speed of seed germination. This study evaluated whether harvesting early during fruit and seed maturation would result in improved germination of a high lycopene genotype. Plants of an experimental line 'T4099' (dg og C ), its recurrent parent 'Flora-Dade' (+ +) and the variety 'OH8245' (+ +) were greenhouse cultured and harvested at different stages of fruit maturity (mature green, breaker, pink breaker, red mature and overripe) in winter 2000 and summer 2001. Seed quality was evaluated by germination index, saturated salt accelerated aging (winter 2000) and standard germination (5 and 14 d) tests of fresh and dry seeds (summer 2001). Germination of the high lycopene line was slower than both 'OH8245' and 'Flora-Dade' lines regardless of fruit maturity. Differences between 'Flora-Dade' and 'T4099' were more marked for normal seedlings than for radicle protrusion in both fresh and dry seeds indicating that the dg gene affects seedling development more than germination. In general, overripe and mature green fruits showed the lowest seed quality. These results suggest that the cause of delayed speed of germination is independent of the gradual accumulation of lycopene in fruit tissues and that speed of germination of dg genotypes is not improved by harvesting during early fruit maturation. In addition, the use of dg genes in commercial cultivars, although desirable, is still dependent on the ability to overcome negative production effects such as low seed quality.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: October 1, 2004
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