Increased interest toward traditional tomato varieties is fueled by the need to rescue desirable organoleptic traits and to improve the quality of fresh and processed tomatoes in the market. In addition, the phenotypic and genetic variation preserved in tomato landraces represents a means to understand the genetic basis of traits related to health and organoleptic aspects and improve them in modern varieties. To establish a framework for this approach, we studied the content of several metabolites in a panel of Italian tomato landraces categorized into three broad fruit type classes (flattened/ribbed, pear/oxheart, round/elongate). Three modern hybrids, corresponding to the three fruit shape typologies, were included as reference. Red ripe fruits were morphologically characterized and biochemically analyzed for their content in glycoalkaloids, phenols, amino acids, and Amadori products. The round/elongate types showed a higher content in glycoalkaloids, whereas flattened types had higher levels of phenolic compounds. Flattened tomatoes were also rich in total amino acids and in particular in glutamic acid. Multivariate analysis of amino acid content clearly separated the three classes of fruit types. Making allowance of the very low number of genotypes, phenotype-marker relationships were analyzed after retrieving single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) among the landraces available in the literature. Sixty-six markers were significantly associated with the studied traits. The positions of several of these SNPs showed correspondence with already described genomic regions and QTLs supporting the reliability of the association. Overall the data indicated that significant changes in quality-related metabolites occur depending on the genetic background in traditional tomato germplasm, frequently according to specific fruit shape categories. Such a variability is suitable to harness association mapping for metabolic quality traits using this germplasm as an experimental population, paving the way for investigating their genetic/molecular basis, and facilitating breeding for quality-related compounds in tomato fruits.
- Amadori products
- Amino acids