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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: History, Origin and Early Cultivation of Tomato (Solanaceae)

Authors
item Peralta, Iris - UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL
item Spooner, David

Submitted to: Genetic Improvement of Solanaceous Crops, Vol 2: Tomato
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 2, 2002
Publication Date: February 2, 2007
Citation: Peralta, I.E., Spooner, D.M. 2007. History, origin and early cultivation of tomato (solanaceae). In: Razdan, M. K. and Mattoo, A. K. editors. Genetic Improvement of Solanaceous Crops, Vol. 2. Enfield, USA: Science Publishers. p. 1-27.

Technical Abstract: Tomato is a major crop of world commerce and supplies essential nutrients in human diets. There has long existed controversy regarding the place of domestication, early history, and taxonomy of tomato. The wild tomato species are native to western South America from Ecuador south to northern Chile and the Galapagos Islands. The progenitor of the cultivated species (Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme = Lycopersicon esculentum var. cerasiforme) currently is widespread throughout warm regions of the world, but many of these are recent introductions. There are two competing hypotheses of the origin of domestication of tomato, one supporting a Peruvian origin, another a Mexican origin. While the Mexican origin is reasonable, we cannot discount a Peruvian origin, or even parallel origins in both areas. Tomatoes were first recorded outside the Americas in Italy in 1544. They were cultivated first as ornamental or curiosity plants and thought by many to be poisonous. They were first accepted as a vegetable in southern Europe during the late 16th century. The first European cultivars had yellow to red horizontally compressed fruits with deep furrows, and flowers with stigmas exserted from the anther tube. Derived cultivars had a wider range of fruit colors and shapes, smoother fruits, and stigmas included in the anther tube that led to increased fruit set. The taxonomy of tomato always has been controversial. This controversy involves not only generic placement in Lycopersicum or Solanum, but also hypotheses of interspecific relationships. Recent molecular data support treatment of tomato in Solanum (as we treat it here), and support allogamy, self incompatibility, and green fruits as primitive in tomatoes, and support at least two species in the widely distributed and highly polymorphic species S. peruvianum.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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