Understanding the molecular basis of phytonutrient composition differences in organic tomatoes via quantitative transcriptome analysis
CSANR Project 118
In an ongoing BIOAg supported study, it has been shown that tomatoes grown with organic nitrogen sources had higher phytonutrient contents than those fertilized with readily available nitrogen. It is hypothesized that improved nitrogen cycling may be the underlying cause of these observed differences. In addition, defense compounds are enhanced in tomatoes grown with organic fertilizers, whereas herbivory may enhance them in tomatoes grown with inorganic fertilizers. Fruit and leaf samples from tomatoes grown with organic and readily available nitrogen sources and phenotyped in the preceding study were used to generate comprehensive transcriptome data. This project addresses the priority area of breeding, varietal selection, management practices, processing, or marketing practices to increase food quality, nutrition, safety or access. In this project we will perform comprehensive data analysis of the available transcriptome information and establish correlations between changes in global gene expression and observed phenotypes. This will enable the identification of metabolic mechanisms that alter phytonutrient content under organic vs. inorganic fertilization. Gene-based knowledge generated in this project is expected to enable varietal selection in breeding approaches aimed at identifying genotypes that are able to utilize organic fertilizer efficiently.