Exploration of three Solanum species for improvement of antioxidant traits in tomato
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Wild tomato species have been widely used for improvement of tomato disease resistance but have not been extensively explored for health-related traits. In this work, three interspecific populations derived from backcrosses between cultivated tomato and Solanum pimpinellifolium (LA1589), S. habrochaites (LA1223), and S. peruvianum (LA2172) were analyzed for water-soluble antioxidant activity, phenolic content, vitamin C content, and basic agronomic traits including fruit weight, shape, and color. The wild species accessions significantly exceeded S. lycopersicum for all three antioxidant traits with only one exception: vitamin C content in S. habrochaites LA1223. Several populations and traits showed transgressive segregation indicating that the backcross populations contained individuals with allele combinations that allowed antioxidant activity/content to exceed that of both parents. The S. habrochaites LA1223 population provided the best starting material for improvement of water-soluble antioxidant activity and phenolics content with 20% and 15% of the population, respectively, significantly exceeding the parental values for these traits. Moreover, the S. habrochaites population contained individuals that had nearly 2-fold more water-soluble antioxidant activity and phenolic content than cultivated tomato. The S. peruvianum LA2172 population was best for improvement of vitamin C content with 3-fold variation for the trait and individuals, which had twice as much vitamin C as cultivated tomato.