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Auto-Hybridizing Tomatoes  RSS feed

 
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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The auto-hybridizing tomato project is the breeding project that has most captured my attention the past few years. I am spending a lot of time and resources on it. A subset of that project is the Beautifully Promiscuous Tomatoes project.

The primary goal of the auto-hybridizing tomato project is to develop a line of large-fruited tomatoes, that are self-incompatible, so that every seed in every generation will be a new F1 hybrid. That will let us easily trial hundreds of thousands of new genetic combinations as possible solutions to issues like septoria, late blight, frost-resistance, insect-resistance, etc...

A corollary goal is selecting for flowers that are huge and showy, and release lots of pollen, and have exposed female parts so that pollinating insects are highly attracted to the flowers, and do a good job pollinating them.

Along the way to the primary goal, I am generating lots of varieties that meet some of the goals of the project, but not all. For example, promiscuous flowers that are self-compatible. For example, Big Hill. There are even varieties that don't meet any of the goals of the project, but are interesting all by themselves. Some of the culls from the auto-hybridizing project are getting spun off into new varieties, but I'm not focusing a lot of effort on them.

Big Hill Tomato: promiscuous flower with exerted stigma and open anther cone


Big Hill Tomato: large early, bicolor fruits



In order to fully satisfy the primary goal of this project, the self-incompatible tomatoes have to have a lot of genetic diversity within them, so that they can generate a tremendous amount of diversity when we start trialing them as solutions to the problems faced by current domestic tomatoes. That's where the wild species come in. Eventually, I intend to incorporate the genetics of the self-compatible wild species like S. cheesmanae, S. galapagense, and S. pimpinellifolium into the auto-hybridizing project. I don't expect to work on that for a few years, but in the meantime, I am selecting among the wild species for varieties that can thrive on my farm.

By growing and sharing seeds from the wild species, I am making it easier for other people to make their own contributions to this project.I am thrilled with the collaboration that is happening regarding this project. So many clever varieties and crosses are coming to me, and saving me years worth of effort. For example, it would be really clever to me to discover a naturally occurring hybrid in the seed Andrew sent: [domestic X S. pennellii] X S. habrochaites. Heck, the [domestic X pennellii] cross is a treasure all by itself. And I fully expect to find [Big Hill X S. habrochaites] crosses in the seed that Gilbert sent. Big Hill was the first successful variety to emerge from the beautifully promiscuous tomatoes project. Crossing it with S. habrochaites would have been on my list of things to do if Gilbert hadn't.

Here's an example of something that doesn't meet any of the goals of the project. It's from a hybrid between two domestic varieties, that happened on a lark, because of what pollen donor and mother happened to be available one day last winter. Some nice varieties might be isolated from among the offspring.

Chariot tomato




 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:A somewhat related side project that I am working on, is growing wild tomato species. One of them that I am working with is Solanum galapagense. I'm mainly selecting for plants that produce seeds in my garden. And that germinate quickly.

Eventually, I intend to incorporate the genetics of the self-compatible wild species like S. cheesmanae, S. galapagense, and S. pimpinellifolium into the auto-hybridizing project. I don't expect to work on that for a few years, but in the meantime, I am selecting among the wild species for varieties that can thrive on my farm.

By growing and sharing seeds from the wild species, I am making it easier for other people to make their own contributions to this project.I am thrilled with the collaboration that is happening regarding this project. So many clever varieties and crosses are coming to me, and saving me years worth of effort.



I added added preliminary S. peruvianum and S. habrochaites pages to my wild tomato wiki. they are in ROUGH shape. Just a few photos, no summary yet. (plan to add a separate page for the off-type LA1777 specifically down the line too). Plan to add pages for wild tomato breeding lines and hybrids too eventually and other significant lines or mutants.

Thanks to mostly Joseph Lofthouse for the photos. There will always be a need for more photos from a variety of angles, etc, and from a larger variety of contributors. But so far i'm liking how the wild tomato wiki is forming. Should be a nice resource (if only for myself) as to what the standard leaf morphology, growing habit, fruit appearance, and other traits may be for a given species.

https://biolumo.com/index.php?title=Tomato_Breeding_Database

Any and all contributors welcome!
 
                
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Hello, everyone.
I read through this very interesting post, and I'd love to do some breeding experiments on the side with wild tomatoes. At the moment I'm experimenting with breeding a cherokee purple plant which grows small, cherry tomato sized tomatoes. I hybridized it with a yellow cherry tomato grown from store-bought tomatoes, and I already have some small seedlings popping up.
Aside from these plants, I only have wild galapagos tomatos with me. These were grown from seeds acquired from rareseeds(Or baker creek heirloom). Does anyone know where I could find other wild tomato seeds like those shown in this post?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Andrew Barney wrote:so far i'm liking how the wild tomato wiki is forming. Should be a nice resource (if only for myself) as to what the standard leaf morphology, growing habit, fruit appearance, and other traits may be for a given species.



Bwah, ha ha!!!

I've pretty much given up on the idea of a standard leaf morphology... Perhaps the only reason I thought such a thing existed was because I was so used to dealing with the very narrow genetic base of highly inbred domestic tomatoes. Here's an example of what I mean. Photos of some tomato leaves I picked today. They are part of the auto-hybridizing tomato project.

interspecies-tomato-20180712.jpg
[Thumbnail for interspecies-tomato-20180712.jpg]
descended from inter-species hybrid tomatoes
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I spent hours observing the tomatoes today. Out of about 500 plants. I put ribbons on about 30 that have traits that I want to try to keep track of long enough to save seeds for next year. I am searching for self-incompatible promiscuous flowers.  I do a lot of culling. It's especially important with promiscuous plants. I don't want them shedding pollen into the rest of the patch.

There were lots of pollinators on the tomato flowers today. They know a great flower when they see it.

peruvianum-4270.JPG
[Thumbnail for peruvianum-4270.JPG]
Beautiful promiscuity
pollinator-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for pollinator-1.jpg]
Unknown species of bee?
pollinator-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for pollinator-2.jpg]
A large bumblebee.
pollinator-3.jpg
[Thumbnail for pollinator-3.jpg]
A small bumblebee.
bumblebee-convention.JPG
[Thumbnail for bumblebee-convention.JPG]
A bumblebee convention.
culled.JPG
[Thumbnail for culled.JPG]
Culling the tomatoes
 
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I planted both saved and commercial tomato seeds this year, and even from the same parent, some are not the same. Lessee... what do I have here... so far nothing has chewed on any of them, tho the potato leaves are full of holes. No ripe fruit yet, tho plenty in progress

#1 - offspring of last year's pest-proof plant, with the very oily leaves that even starving grasshoppers didn't touch (it was an only child so self-fertilized). Smaller compact upright bush, slow to bloom (no fruit yet) but it's also in the worst spot and doesn't get the deep water the others do. (The large ones are 4-5 feet tall and eat passing children.)

#2 - from super-good storeboughts (the kind that are 5-6 2" fruits set evenly along a stem). Big strong upright plants. One is making round fruit that look like the parent, and the other is making what look like Romas, with a bit over half the flowers setting fruit.

#3 - commercial seed 2004, "Burpee Super Beefsteak" (same seed as last year's pestproof model) large vigorous grower, lot of blooms, few fruit as yet.

#4 - commercial seed 2017, "FerryMorse shish kabob" - smaller strangly-looking plant (trying to grow up the corn like a vine), many small fruit. Initially didn't set well but started doing so once the weather got hot. Accidentally broke off a piece and just stuck it in the ground and it's growing pretty good.

#5 - this space unintentionally left blank, because one of my numbered sticks went missing.

#6 - commercial seed 2017 "Brandywine pink" (heritage supposedly) - very large, upright, and vigorous; world's ugliest tomato plant, big flat leaves (some hand-sized), if I hadn't planted it myself I'd have pulled it up as a weed. Leaves smell like gasoline, but the flowers smell unusually sweet (for a tomato) and are very attractive to bees; I notice they visit it first when they come up the hill in the morning. Stamens are initially completely hidden, then the flower bursts apart and exposes the stamen, which is quite large (not long but thick). Initially poor fruit set but once it got going, setting a bit over half.

#7 commercial seed 2004, "Burpee Heatwave Hybrid" - smaller strangly-looking plant, so far indistinguishable from #4, likewise a slow starter but now setting many small fruit.

Then there are two I bought as started plants:

Bonnie's "Favorite" -- big strong upright plant, probably about 60% fruit set.

Bonnie's "Cherokee Purple" (heritage) -- huge bushy plant, upright center with large strong lateral branches. Started setting fruit by 10" tall, and 100% of blooms set fruit -- it has about 12 pounds on it already. Some are softball-sized and just starting to darken. The biggest fruit are in tight clumps in the middle so despite the weight, don't drag it over. Flowers show a well-exposed stamen, thicker than average, which I expect is why every single blossom sets fruit, so far without exception. (You can tell, because no scars from flowers that fell off.) The earliest 2 or 3 clumps are all self-fertilized (it bloomed weeks ahead of its neighbors). For sheer volume it beats every tomato I've ever seen, so I hope it tastes good!!

And the bees had their way with 'em so other than the early blooms, gods know what hybridized with what. #2's parent was evidently open-pollinated since the offspring don't match at all.

======

Also planted some spaghetti squash seeds from a random locally-produced fruit (which was a good keeper). Four plants was overkill. ONE would have been overkill. Kudzu has nothing on 'em; they've taken over all the open ground and are now invading the corn. And they make zucchini look inadequate. I read that you could expect 4 or 5 per vine... wrong!! Each has around 30 squash-in-progress (about 80% fruit set) and no end in sight. Planted April 14th and the first fruit reached mature size by July 10th. Two types -- one cream-colored like the parent, the other mottled-green.
 
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