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Profoundly Promiscuous and Totally Tasty Tomato Project

 
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I expect that the end result of my promiscuous tomato project will be fruits that taste like ground cherry, cape gooseberry, or tomatillos.

The promiscuous tomatoes are often high umami. We might be selecting as much for sweetness, and high umami, as we are selecting against acidity and bitterness.

I also select against lycopene in my watermelons.

I don't grow broccoli because it is so nasty bitter. That has a lot to do with the arid climate.
 
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Along with individual taste preferences I suspect that climate and soil play a very big role in how a tomato or anything else tastes. I've tasted a lot of nasty tomatoes over the years but don't think I ever encountered one I'd call bitter. Mostly the ones I don't like are because they don't taste like much at all, neither like a nice red tomato, nor like a delicious sweet fruit. Also a yucky texture is very off putting to me.

I have one tomato, I haven't grown for a couple of years that I dehybridized from  the bush variety of the F1, Early Girl. It tastes distinctly salty to me, especially in a dry season.

I didn't know watermelons had lycopene but I tend to like the yellow and orange ones better than red. I wonder if that is what makes the subtle difference because I don't dislike red ones, just like the others better.  Never encountered bitter broccoli either but it certainly doesn't all taste the same, some tastes a little bit sweet to me.

 
pollinator
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Interesting discussion about lycopenes. I'm not a huge raw tomato fan in general unless they're in a salad with a good amount of dressing, mostly I like cooked tomatoes. I assume it's not the lycopene that I dislike, because I love autumn olive and goumi fruits which supposedly have the highest lycopene content of any known food. I'll literally gorge myself of fresh autumn olive fruit from the right bushes (they vary in flavor considerably) when they're at their peak ripeness (If they're too astringent, often they just need more time). Most other people aren't as enthusiastic about them. So I'm wondering, do those of you that don't like red tomatoes also not like autumn olive or goumi fruit?

Also, I know of one autumn olive bush that has yellow fruit instead of red. it's probably a mutation that has far less lycopene, as it's a fairly young bush that is in an area where all the rest have the normal red fruit. I think they taste different but equally good myself.
 
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Climate, soil - rainfall - all sorts of things can effect a tomatoes flavor. Genetics are probably the largest factor.

Genetics also play a role in how things taste to different people.

I generally dislike tomatoes in general. I could use them on a burger, sauce - things that pretty much eliminate the tomatoes flavor.

I dislike red watermelons as well - I can eat a few pieces due to the other nice flavors.  Only recently found the lycopene connection.

I would call lycopene astringent / bitter. I also dislike acidity, which most tomatoes have to some degree.

I should probably mention that I hate bitter foods.

Joseph has been selecting towards tomatoes that I can eat without feeling disgusted, which is nice.


I tried making a list of some tastes I have that are probably genetically influenced. Along with what they should taste like.

Cilantro: To me it tastes like stink bugs, maybe soapy.  It should taste lemony due to the citronella. Some people like me, have receptors which can detect aldehyde chemicals - other things. The chemicals are found in both stink bugs and cilantro. The flavor probably masks the citronella.

Arugula: Young leaves, mature leaves - store bought leaves. They all just taste bitter to me, no added peppercorn taste that a lot of people can detect. Should be peppery / spicy, bitter.

Limes:  I can detect a single drop of it in lemonade, ruins the whole drink for me. I also hate things made with Hops. So, yeah. Nothing bitter.

Onions: I like the initial taste of onions, after a few minutes I get a metallic - smoky aftertaste in my mouth. I can handle a little bit if the onions are mixed with a burger or something in small amounts. Garlic is great, no issues with it. My father has the same issue with onions. I haven't died or gotten sick, doesn't seem to be an allergy or intolerance.

Some people also think that Ginger is bitter.

It would be fun to test out how different people react to Zanthoxylum species, Tasmannia lanceolata. Or even Synsepalum dulcificum which contains miraculin, the chemical activates sweet receptors, sour and sometimes bitter things are perceived as sweet. Apparently transgenic tomatoes that contain Miraculin are being produced in labs.



Some orange tomatoes have the astringent tomato taste, some have very little of it. I should be able to screen out the bad tasting ones myself.




 
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I have a couple flowers growing on BH-series plants obtained from EFN that look like this:



It looks like a compound flower or something. Is that normal or desirable?

For a couple other images of it, go here.
 
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One of my Early Girl tomato plants has a flower that looks similar to yours. There was a small wasp/bee on the flower that flew away right before the picture was taken. It will be interesting to see what the fruit from this flower looks like.
Large-Tomato-Flower.jpg
 Large-Tomato-Flower
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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That is typical for the BH-series. Those mega-flowers lead to mega-fruits. It's typically only the primary flower in early clusters that acts that way. The mega fruits might have cat-facing due to complex nature of the flower. Some people leave them. Other people remove them. Personal preference.
 
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I think I've got the 'sea urchin'



It's the velvety looking plant from my previous posts. Fruits are on the small side of medium, greenish yellow in color and have a very unique taste, nothing like I've had before (I have not had an actual sea urchin though).

The flavor works very well with a bit of salt added.
I wonder how it would work in a sauce.
 
Garrett Schantz
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My velvet leaved Wildling has some weird flowers. Added a front view / back view.

Assuming that the "fish - sea urchin" tastes are from S. pennellii - or a mix of chemicals from S. habrochaites - domestics mixed with S. pennellii.

The flowers on my plant are quite small - but also quite messy. Any bees that visit these flowers will probably pollinate them with another wildling - BH - Q series, or a habrochaites may donate some pollen.

Probably going to be getting cherry or currant sized fruits from this plant.

Wonder if this will be a "sea urchin" flavored plant as well...?

Maybe it would go well mixed with Oyster Leaf (Mertensia maritima). Could also go well with Salsola komarovii / Salsola soda - Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, plants that taste like salt (They take salt up from the soil and store it in their leaves).

All of these new flavors will probably need new recipes as well. A lot of these may not work in standard tomato canning recipes - should be easy to create new recipes along with new uses - fruity tomatoes could work as a paste or "jam". A fruity tomato doesn't sound too good on burgers either - guess I will try it anyways if I get anything fruity.

Quite excited for fruits to form.
velv.jpg
Strange flowers.
Strange flowers.
back.jpg
Backside of flowers.
Backside of flowers.
 
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Assuming that the "fish - sea urchin" tastes are from S. pennellii - or a mix of chemicals from S. habrochaites - domestics mixed with S. pennellii.


Makes sense, because that yellow "sea urchin" one posted above looks identical to the one I thought tasted fishy.
 
Ansis Klavins
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So a quick update regarding blight resistance.
I had a couple of dozen tomato plants from wildling and q-series outdoor and they are all completely killed by blight, none of them displayed any significant resistance.
The interesting thing is that the Neandermatos growing right among them survived with small levels of damage. So there is some potential in those genetics.
Unfortunately none of my crosses made with neander pollen to domestic flowers has any seeds at all.
I guess I'll try again next year with more flowers.

On a slightly related note,I had hundreds of tps potato seedling from all over the world growing this year and less than 10 are alive and healthy, all of them direct descendants of Sarpo Mira. Rest were decimated by blight
 
Steve Mendez
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I let the odd shaped large tomato flower develop into a fruit.  It turns out the flower was on a branch of  a Beefsteak tomato plant that had grown through to the other side of an Early Girl plant.  Tasty, meaty, very little juice.
Bottom-view-of-funky-tomato.jpg
Bottom-view-of-funky-tomato
Large-Tomato-Flower.jpg
Large-Tomato-Flower
Side-view-of-funky-tomato.jpg
 Side-view-of-funky-tomato
Sliced-view-of-funky-tomato.jpg
Sliced-view-of-funky-tomato
Top-view-of-funky-tomato.jpg
Top-view-of-funky-tomato
 
Garrett Schantz
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Can't say enough about how much I enjoy all of the wild tomato hybrids / variations.

I am quite good at noticing "small" differences in plants. Some of Joeseph's hybrids have different maximum leaf sizes, different leaf shades, almost all of the Peruvianum leaves curl inwards at night, some grow normally in cold weather, some stop flowering when it gets too cold - all sorts of fun things.

I am quite good at noticing volunteers, wild edible species scattered around. Good skill I suppose.

Anyway here is my most off-type out of all of Joseph's Peruvianum's - for me at least - others could have something bizarre. Seeds are from the Experimental Farm Network.

Going to start off with posting the original comparison, indoors - cold, growing much faster than it's Peruvianum buddies.

Next up, some of it's unusual leaves.

After that, unusual sprawling branches which apparently hate growing upwards even when being overtaken by habrochaites!

Can't forget the lovely flowers (Hidden by habrochaites, so most bees probably didn't bother with it).

Fruits are white-green color. The green portion appears to mostly be shouldering. Didn't see any green shouldering in Joseph's EFN image. Green shoulders can be caused by a variety of traits.

This plant also got blight before anything else - resulted in pretty much all flowers dropping, only got fruit when blight calmed down towards the end of summer. By this point only one other Peruvianum was flowering - very scarcely. Oh, yeah since the Peruvianum was dying of blight and not setting any fruit, I let it "die". Guess it decided to revive, habrochaites ended up smothering it. I removed two habrochaites branches to let some sunlight hit the Peruvianum.


Adding a leaf comparison, because why not?


Largest leaf off each plant / type.

Blue box has some domestics - Wild Gem and Pimpinellifolium are on the far right, they are different looking from typical pimpinellifolium / domestic types.

Red box has some Peruvianum leaves, including the off type peruvianum.

Purple box has a Chmielewskii leaf.

Leaves that aren't boxed in are habrochaites.


Hope that everyone else had a fun time growing out wild species this year, I sure did. Planning on doing a few flats of wilds next year. Didn't do enough to support an SI population. Will do a larger scale leaf comparison as well.
all.jpg
Seedling Comparisons
Seedling Comparisons
leavesetc.jpg
Peruvianum Leaf, some flowers visible
Peruvianum Leaf, some flowers visible
branches.jpg
Sprawling branches
Sprawling branches
flowers.jpg
Peruvianum Flowers
Peruvianum Flowers
fruits-horz.jpg
Inside / Outside of the Peruvianum fruits
Inside / Outside of the Peruvianum fruits
leaves2.jpg
Leaf comparisons.
Leaf comparisons.
 
Jeremiah Squingelli
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I'm growing out tomatoes from all my favorites among seeds i saved from wildling and Q series last year. Some red tomatoes that produced exceptionally well, lots of orange tomatoes including one that tastes distinctly like a very sweet canteloupe, and the yellow "sea urchin" type. I'm just gonna keep refining my favorites and see how they go.

The one I'm most excited to grow this year is from the plant that produced bright orange fruit that tasted exactly like canteloupe.
 
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With the habro x domestic manual pollination.. saving seeds from those fruits.. plants from those seeds.. Those F1 plants will most likely be able to self pollinate or cross pollinate with each other?

And habro (neandermato) can only be pollen dad to domestic?

This project is so interesting. I really don't need another project but I added a big list of tomatoes to my seed list anyway! After getting Joseph's book it makes more sense to me, coming back to read this thread from the beginning.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Jeremiah Squingelli wrote:The one I'm most excited to grow this year is from the plant that produced bright orange fruit that tasted exactly like canteloupe.



That's exciting. We are getting closer all the time to having a stable melon flavor. I can't possibly grow out enough plants. That's why I share seeds so widely. Someone might discover and stabilize that trait. We are also chasing persimmon flavor.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The domestic X habrochaites cross only works if the domestic plant receives pollen from the wild.

I believe that the F1 plants are self-sterile, so they require another plant, not closely related, for pollination.

Later generations segregate into a mixed breeding system, with some plants able to self-pollinate, and others not able.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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People ask me about creating tomato landraces often enough that I want to make a public post...

Domestic tomatoes lack genetic diversity, making them one of the most inbred crops that we grow, and therefore among the most difficult to grow landrace style.

Adaptation Agriculture requires two things:
1- Genetic diversity
2- Promiscuous pollination.

With both of those traits in place, then the crop can undergo survival of the fittest selection for current local conditions.

Domestic tomatoes lack both characteristics. They defied my attempts to turn them into a locally-adapted landrace. I currently believe that purely domestic tomatoes cannot become a landrace.

That motivated me to seek out the traits in wild tomatoes that make them 100% cross-pollinating, which  dragged with it a bunch of genetic diversity.

To create a landrace (for example plum) tomato, I would pollinate a few favorite (plum) tomatoes, with a line of self-incompatible tomatoes, and then re-select for the self-incompatible trait, promiscuous flowers, and desired shape/size/color of fruit. The self-incompatible plants donate pollen to the domestic tomatoes. The cross doesn't work in the other direction. Pooling the pollen from  many different pollen donors, (preferably in the neighborhood of 16 to 32) from a self-incompatible population maintained with many parents. And keeping in mind the whole time that promiscuous tomatoes have a many to many breeding system, and best results come from larger populations.

Love,
Joseph Lofthouse
author of Landrace Gardening
flowers-huge-001.jpg
promiscuous tomato flowers
promiscuous tomato flowers
 
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Hello everyone, I’ve been a long time reader of this forum, even if hitherto I’d never posted.

Firstly, Joseph this breeding project has me absolutely captivated. I massively admire your efforts & believe them to be transformative for all tomato enthusiasts. I do have a couple questions.

How are things progressing? Do you need anything from the greater community?

I have my own “landrace” of wild type tomatoes, (mostly pimpinellifolium & cheesmanie) that volunteers quite readily on my property & would love to introduce “autohybridizing” genes into the mix. I’d be happy to provide genetics from my own plants if you desire them.

Finally, have you achieved flowers that adequately meet the needs of the project? I would love to introduce (large, promiscuous, exserted stamen, etc) flowers to my own populations
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Steven: Thanks for asking!

I have about 600 seeds to share this winter. Looking for collaborators willing and able to grow out populations of about 30-50 plants in about 1000 square feet. We want to give them enough space to examine them as individuals, rather than in bulk.

Requirements would include:

  • Cull plants with closed flowers
  • Monthly photos for culling and selection
  • Possible farm visits by Joseph or collaborators for culling and selection
  • Save seeds from great tasting plants separate from funky tasting
  • Return of most of the seed


  • Bonus consideration given to gardens in disease or bug infested areas.

    Bonus consideration given to gardeners that use no composts, fertilizers, poisons, or other treatments.

    Bonus consideration given to growers with the inclination and time to attempt manual hand-pollination to carefully cull plants capable of self pollination.

    Bonus consideration given to gardens with a huge pollinator presence, especially of bumble bees, digger bees, and other buzz pollinating species.

    We currently seek funding to allow site visits, and possible stipends for growers.


     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    Scientists at Rutgers University study the promiscuous tomatoes, because they discovered that nitrogen fixing bacteria live inside their roots and leaves.

    What?!? Tomatoes making their own fertilizer?

    I haven't fertilized my garden in 15 years. The tomatoes figured out how to take care of themselves without human intervention. They did that for 50 million years before agriculture.

    The blue dots in the photo are nitrogen fixing microbes inside the root of one of the promiscuous tomatoes.

    nitrogen-fixing.jpg
    Nitrogen fixing microbes living inside the promiscuous tomatoes
    Nitrogen fixing microbes living inside the promiscuous tomatoes
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    I made a new image for the French language version of my book (going out to beta-readers in a few days). The image illustrates the dramatic inbreeding that happened during tomato domestication -- 95% loss of genetic diversity.
    french-bottleneck-2.jpg
    95% of genetic diversity got left in the Andes.
    95% of genetic diversity got left in the Andes.
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    I planted the promiscuous tomatoes today.
    promiscuous-tomatoes_2024-05-30_101216.jpg
    promiscuous tomatoes
    promiscuous tomatoes
    promiscuous-tomatoes_20240530.jpg
    autohybridizing tomatoes
    autohybridizing tomatoes
     
    pollinator
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    Are the Purely Promiscuous seeds from Going to Seed strictly outcrossing? They're doing really well in my garden, but my impression is some are self pollinating because of closed flowers. The "auto hybridizing" caption under the picture above had me wondering if the expectation is that they're strictly outcrossing.
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    The "purely promiscuous" tomatoes from going to seed have a mixed breeding system. Some may self-pollinate. Others  require a non-related pollinator. I haven't grown them yet, though I have seedlings almost ready for planting.

    I'd love photos of flowers.

     
    Jake Esselstyn
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    Here are some photos of flowers from the Purely Promiscuous Toms I'm growing. More often than not, the anther is concealed. I tried to capture a representative sample of the variation.
    IMG_2543.jpg
    purely promiscuous
    purely promiscuous
    IMG_2544.jpg
    purely promiscuous
    purely promiscuous
    IMG_2545.jpg
    purely promiscuous
    purely promiscuous
    IMG_2546.jpg
    purely promiscuous
    purely promiscuous
    IMG_2547.jpg
    purely promiscuous
    purely promiscuous
    IMG_2548.jpg
    purely promiscuous
    purely promiscuous
    IMG_2549.jpg
    purely promiscuous
    purely promiscuous
    IMG_2550.jpg
    purely promiscuous
    purely promiscuous
     
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