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Page 193

of soluble solids (mainly sugars) was elevated from an average of about 5 percent to about 7 percent—a potential benefit of great economic value to California's tomato industry.

This demonstrates how important even the least-known wild relatives of crops can be, especially for increasing yield and for introducing disease-and pest-resistance. For reasons of space, this report cannot deal with them, but it should be understood that the wild relatives are so important that, without them, many modern crops simply would not exist.

Following are some of the other wild Andean ancestors and relatives that contribute genes to the modern tomato.

  • L. peruvianum, a widespread Peruvian species, contributes resistance to pests and increases vitamin C content.

  • L. pennellii, from dry hill slopes of western Peru, contributes drought resistance and high levels of vitamins A and C and sugar.

  • L. esculentum var. cerasiforme, which grows on the warm eastern slopes of the Andes, helps plants tolerate high temperature and humidity and resist certain fungal diseases.

  • L. chilense, native to coastal deserts of northern Chile and southern Peru, contributes genes for drought resistance.

  • L. cheesmanii, from the Galapagos Islands, provides salt tolerance, high soluble solids, and the jointless fruit stalks that help tomatoes break off cleanly during mechanical harvesting.

  • L. hirsutum, which grows in high altitudes of Ecuador and Peru, offers genes that resist numerous insects and mites and code for cold tolerance.



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