Use of natural diversity and biotechnology to increase the quality and nutritional content of tomato and grape

Quentin Gascuel, Gianfranco Diretto, Antonio J. Monforte, Ana M. Fortes, Antonio Granell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

15 Citations (Scopus)


Improving fruit quality has become a major goal in plant breeding. Direct approaches to tackling fruit quality traits specifically linked to consumer preferences and environmental friendliness, such as improved flavor, nutraceutical compounds, and sustainability, have slowly been added to a breeder priority list that already includes traits like productivity, efficiency, and, especially, pest and disease control. Breeders already use molecular genetic tools to improve fruit quality although most advances have been made in producer and industrial quality standards. Furthermore, progress has largely been limited to simple agronomic traits easy-to-observe, whereas the vast majority of quality attributes, specifically those relating to flavor and nutrition, are complex and have mostly been neglected. Fortunately, wild germplasm, which is used for resistance against/tolerance of environmental stresses (including pathogens), is still available and harbors significant genetic variation for taste and health-promoting traits. Similarly, heirloom/traditional varieties could be used to identify which genes contribute to flavor and health quality and, at the same time, serve as a good source of the best alleles for organoleptic quality improvement. Grape (Vitis vinifera L.) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) produce fleshy, berry-type fruits, among the most consumed in the world. Both have undergone important domestication and selection processes, that have dramatically reduced their genetic variability, and strongly standardized fruit traits. Moreover, more and more consumers are asking for sustainable production, incompatible with the wide range of chemical inputs. In the present paper, we review the genetic resources available to tomato/grape breeders, and the recent technological progresses that facilitate the identification of genes/alleles of interest within the natural or generated variability gene pool. These technologies include omics, high-throughput phenotyping/phenomics, and biotech approaches. Our review also covers a range of technologies used to transfer to tomato and grape those alleles considered of interest for fruit quality. These include traditional breeding, TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes), genetic engineering, or NPBT (New Plant Breeding Technologies). Altogether, the combined exploitation of genetic variability and innovative biotechnological tools may facilitate breeders to improve fruit quality tacking more into account the consumer standards and the needs to move forward into more sustainable farming practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number652
Pages (from-to)-
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science

Cite this