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Promiscuously Pollinated Tomatoes And The Bees That Make Them Possible

 
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I don't have a good track record of keeping plants alive as houseplants overwinter. I do it every winter. Some survive, some die. I am usually able to grow a new generation of seed overwinter, but it's hit and miss. I'm intending to heat the greenhouse for a while this fall. That may help.

I pulled two odd plants that were growing in the S peruvianum patch. They have leaves that are serrated/wrinkled, which I typically think of as a habrochaites trait. I managed to break the roots from the vines, so I stuck them in water to see if they will grow new roots.

I'm intending to take photos of the larger fruits (by weight) in the next few weeks when I pick tomatoes.


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wild tomatoes
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I don't have a good track record of keeping plants alive as houseplants overwinter. I do it every winter. Some survive, some die. I am usually able to grow a new generation of seed overwinter, but it's hit and miss. I'm intending to heat the greenhouse for a while this fall. That may help.

I pulled two odd plants that were growing in the S peruvianum patch. They have leaves that are serrated/wrinkled, which I typically think of as a habrochaites trait. I managed to break the roots from the vines, so I stuck them in water to see if they will grow new roots.

I'm intending to take photos of the larger fruits (by weight) in the next few weeks when I pick tomatoes.




Interesting plant.  It does indeed sort of look halfway between a hab. And a peruvianum. I had a feeling they should cross easily,  but who knows without trying manual crosses.
 
Andrew Barney
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This tomato self seeded in the area that the pimpinellifolium / peruvianum plants were growing last year. It is also near the patch of cheesmanaie plants i planted from seed. Regardless it appears to be a cheesmaniae or pimp. tomato plant, BUT it looks like the fruit has stripes like peruvianum or habrochiates! Perhaps a bee pollinated hybrid?!


20180828_195032 by Andrew Barney, on Flickr
 
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An interesting article on the abundance of beneficial, endophytic bacterial associated in natural environments with tomato seed.  Interesting to speculate if the act of pollination itself helps to distribute the bacteria between flowers, the communities of which then end up colonizing the seeds.

https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/pdf/10.1094/PBIOMES-06-18-0029-R


Also....Joseph:  Have you ever kept records or made observations on tomato varieties that store<<>>ripen well when picked green?  Most of what we pick when rushing to dodge temps in the low 20s end up as greenies on the countertop for several weeks.  When most of these turn some pale version of red, they are rather bland and watery.  Yet some seem a bit better than others.  I'm somewhat jokingly wondering if there isn't a market among the Permie home-gardening crowd for certain types of tomatoes that are kept around for this trait alone.....the ability to store well and ripen after picking.  (Clearly the shipping tomato industry has benefited from tomatoes that ship and store well, but all sorts of additional props are introduced into that production stream to make the venture profitable.)  Anyway, just some musing regarding home-grown tomato diversity with regard to this question.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Thanks John. I have long speculated that part of the reason that my plants thrive is because I don't use any sort of cides in my garden. No herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, anti-biotics, soaps, etc... So when I share my seeds, I am also sharing the associated microbes. Also, because I am encouraging promiscuous pollination in everything I grow, I am encouraging the exchange of microbes via pollen, and/or by insects. So once a beneficial microbe gets into my garden, it is easily spread around to other plants that can benefit from it. Also, as a plant breeder, I don't practice crop rotation, if anything I like to plant things in the same place from year to year, so that they WILL get infected with the local microbes (for better or for worse).

Here's a couple of more articles that explore the possibilities:

Bacterial microbiota associated with flower pollen is influenced by pollination type, and shows a high degree of diversity and species-specificity.

Characterization of pollen and bacterial community composition in brood provisions of a small carpenter bee

I haven't kept records about long keeping tomatoes... When I was growing commercial varieties, I used to grow "Burpee's Long Keeper". And there are the "De Colgar" varieties that are bred specifically for long storage. At one time, I was working on a long-keeping tomato project, and was getting tomatoes that would store from September until March. They'd be wrinkly and dehydrated by then, but very flavorful. Alas, so many projects that could be worked on, and some are more interesting to me than others.  It's pretty common here to harvest green tomatoes the day before frost is expected, and to let them ripen over the next couple months.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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This summer was amazing in the wild tomato patch... So many pollinators of so many species!

Bumblebees were very common, up to 5 species at the same time.


How's this for a promiscuous tomato flower?


So easy to swap pollen and microbes!


Comparing an interspecies tomato flower from my breeding project (huge!) with a typical flower from a domestic variety. If I were a bee, I know which flower I'd find most attractive.


Species unknown:


A huge bumblebee:


A tiny bumblebee?


This tomato has been very popular. It doesn't meet the breeding goals of the project, but it has captured people's imaginations.


Siblings to the previous plant:


Another sibling:


So much diversity to work with among the wild species:


These are both the same species (Solanum habrochaites):



 
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I've been wrong before, but something about the head in that species unknown pic says dipteran to me Joseph.

Edit: perhaps https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoverfly

I'm uncertain though, could have pollen sacks (bee) or that could be bits of the flower showing through. Wings are in motion cannot see if they are single or if halteres are present.
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Hi, I'm new in the forum. Excuse my English, it's not my natural language. I live in Argentina. I love permies and I'm just fascinated about your growing works Joseph.
My question here is, how do you know that a wild species will pollinate your cultivated tomatos?
In this area grows a wild tomato (solanum sisymbriifolium) called tomatillo by us. I would like to know if is there any chance for it to pollinate my tomato plants. I'm intending to start a "dry whether resistant tomato" growing project.



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William Schlegel
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Leandro argent wrote:Hi, I'm new in the forum. Excuse my English, it's not my natural language. I live in Argentina. I love permies and I'm just fascinated about your growing works Joseph.
My question here is, how do you know that a wild species will pollinate your cultivated tomatos?
In this area grows a wild tomato (solanum sisymbriifolium) called tomatillo by us. I would like to know if is there any chance for it to pollinate my tomato plants. I'm intending to start a "dry whether resistant tomato" growing project.





https://tgrc.ucdavis.edu

https://tgrc.ucdavis.edu/spprecommed.aspx

Hi Leandro,

The Tomato Genetic Resource Resource center in California is a good source of information about the wild tomato species that will cross with domestic tomato. Unfortunately Solanum sisymbrifolium is not one of them, though it may be worth growing in its own right.

Some of the species that will cross are potentially very drought tolerant. Solanum penellii, and at least some populations of Solanum arcanum, and Solanum peruvianum grow in very dry deserts. Most grow in Equador, Peru, and Chile. Some of the species are good sources of pollen such as Solanum penellii and Solanum habrochaites. A couple readily cross Solanum pimpinillifolium and Solanum galapagense.

Others are harder to cross and have mostly been the work of professional scientists.

Recently some scientists have been working to produce strains of some of the wild species that are domesticated in their own right without crossing. This is potentially a useful route as crossing sometimes disturbs the important multi gene traits like drought tolerance and salt tolerance.  
 
Leandro argent
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Thanks a lot William! I'm going to check that info out in a while.
 
Leandro argent
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Sadly tomatoes do so poorly here. Too dry, too hot in summer. I'm the other hand tomatillos are  great. This is their natural habitat. They have this sweet delicious cherry like little fruits. But plants are very thorny. Even I have the idea of starting a sort of domestication of it. Just grow it selecting best fruits and less thorns. I don't know, just an idea.
Thanks a lot.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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This project finally succeeded well enough that I have enough seed to  list in my seed catalog. Here is a link to a description of the bulk field-run seed: https://permies.com/t/73551/Landrace-seeds-Joseph-Lofthouse#815262

We are growing another generation overwinter in a warmer climate. And making F1 hybrids that should move the project forward dramatically.

One thing that emerged from this project that I didn't expect at first, is fruity tasting tomatoes with high ummami. I tend to dislike the taste of raw tomatoes. Therefore, I am excited to find fruits that don't taste like tomatoes.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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William: In response to your inquiry regarding fruit size. Here's a photo that shows a fruit that was typical of the S. corneliomulleri that I started out with, compared to fruits today. The larger fruit is one that came out of the (possibly hybridized) seed that you returned to me. At the end up the growing season, after staring at the plants a lot, all season long, I combined the S corneliomulleri and S peruvianum populations. I also grew them side by side to encourage cross pollination.

I also noticed one S peruvianum plant with extra large fruits. I saved seeds from it separate from the rest. As a mandatory out-crosser it was pollinated by plants with smaller fruits, but through a process of successive approximation, I intent to select for a population with larger fruits. This year, I also started selecting the S peruvianum population for sweeter, more flavorful fruits.

I grew S pennellii in pots this summer with special soil, because they fail if planted directly into my fields.  One of them had dramatically larger fruits. So I likewise saved seeds from it separately from the rest of the patch.

Some of the S habrochaites fruits this year had 3 locules. The wild tomatoes typically have 2 locules. Larger numbers of locules is one of the reasons that domestic tomatoes have larger fruits. So I also saved the plants with 3 locules separate from the rest of the patch.

I figure that I might as well work on domesticating the wild species, since I am growing them anyway. I am not much interested in heirloom preservation. I am more interested in the ongoing web of life, and in selecting for varieties that thrive when grown in current, ever-changing, conditions.
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Comparing original fruit size with current fruit size in wild tomato S corneliomulleri
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Some of the larger fruits of S pervianum
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Larger S habrochaites fruits with 3 locules.
 
William Schlegel
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The peruvianum complex is perhaps the most exciting part of the wild tomato projects for me.

I planted a couple seeds from my hybridization attempts recently though will be very surprised if they germinate as I intended to do embryo rescue with them but ran short on time and then ran out of flowers. Though the parent plants are still kicking around in the basement.

I can't wait to start some more seeds! I have some seed for S. Arcanum and S. Chilense accessions that may be good bridgees with domestic tomatoes.
.



 
Joseph Lofthouse
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William: That story sure is familiar to me.... Not having a suitable female and a suitable pollen donor available at the same time that I am able to bring them together!

Until I started growing the wild tomatoes, I didn't realize how incredibly inbred domestic tomatoes had become. I guess there were three major bottlenecks: 1- when they left South America to go to Mexico. 2- When they left Mexico to go to Europe. 3- When they left Europe to go to North America. Each bottleneck dropped genetic diversity. And as a highly inbreeding species, they are constantly shedding genetic diversity. So when crossing domestic tomatoes with each other, I see small "cosmetic" differences, but in general, they are more or less the same. When I grow the wild tomatoes, there are huge difference between varieties, and between different plants in the same variety. Huge difference in leaf shape, fruit texture, taste, ummami, fragrance, flower morphology, growth habit, vigor, etc, etc, etc. So I also have high hopes for what the wild species have to offer. I am growing the wild species close together, and nearby to the inter-species hybrids, hoping that the wild species will cross pollinate each other, or get "contaminated" with pollen from the inter-species hybrids. Instead of transferring one or two genes from wild tomatoes into a highly inbred domestic tomato, I am working on incorporating a half-dozen or so genes from domestic tomatoes into a wild tomato background. The wild tomatoes have retained a tremendous ability to adapt to diseases, pests, and changing growing conditions. That excites me, even if it is a decades long breeding project. It doesn't seem like late blight is going away any time soon.



 
Joseph Lofthouse
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This is my best guess at interspecies crossing ability within tomatoes. The solid lines are fully compatible bi-directional crosses. The black dotted lines are one way pollen flow only. The red dotted lines are possible pollen flows that depend on the particular genetics of specific offspring of the inter-species crosses.  As with anything biological, these are approximations, and once in a million occurrences are possible, since plants produce pollen super prolifically. I didn't include all 13 tomato species in the diagram, just the 9 that I'm working with in my garden.
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Interspecies compatibility between wild tomato species.
 
William Schlegel
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:This is my best guess at interspecies crossing ability within tomatoes. The solid lines are fully compatible bi-directional crosses. The black dotted lines are one way pollen flow only. The red dotted lines are possible pollen flows that depend on the particular genetics of specific offspring of the inter-species crosses.  As with anything biological, these are approximations, and once in a million occurrences are possible, since plants produce pollen super prolifically. I didn't include all 13 tomato species in the diagram, just the 9 that I'm working with in my garden.



Certain specific populations of Arcanum  (LA 1708 and LA 2172) and Chilense may weakly link the Peruvianum complex to the other side by natural means specifically to domestic and pimpinillifolium.

http://tatermater.proboards.com/thread/1020/peruvianum-usage

I got seed packets of the LA 1708 and LA 2172 from TGRC after reading this Tom Wagner thread.

My thought is cross or attempt to cross the Arcanum x peruvianum, Arcanum x pimpinillifolium, and Arcanum x domestic. I am less hopeful the Chilense will work just because it may be difficult to grow Chilense in this climate.

There is also embryo rescue and just playing the odds. Enough pollinations and one may take. Or one particular plant may prove receptive to pollen from one particular donor just as the three accessions mentioned worked for some researchers there may be other strains of tomato out there that could be bridging.

Certain cultivars already have at least a little Peruvianum in them as well.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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So far this spring, I have planted about 3000 seeds for the Beautifully Promiscuous and Tasty Tomato project. 1/3 of them as transplants, and the rest were direct seeded. I distributed about 5000 seeds to more than 100 collaborators.

We devoted a lot of resources and labor into selecting for promiscuous flowers and out-crossing plants. This growing season, we are selecting for blight and disease tolerance back east where the ecosystem is problematic for tomatoes.

Oh, and can't forget to mention the taste. Oh my. Intending to select for fruitiness this summer, and against tomato-like taste.
 
William Schlegel
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:So far this spring, I have planted about 3000 seeds for the Beautifully Promiscuous and Tasty Tomato project. 1/3 of them as transplants, and the rest were direct seeded. I distributed about 5000 seeds to more than 100 collaborators.

We devoted a lot of resources and labor into selecting for promiscuous flowers and out-crossing plants. This growing season, we are selecting for blight and disease tolerance back east where the ecosystem is problematic for tomatoes.

Oh, and can't forget to mention the taste. Oh my. Intending to select for fruitiness this summer, and against tomato-like taste.



I'm really excited about this year. In fact I'm already excited about next year. I planted most of the halfling seed you sent this year and last. Plus what little I got back myself last year. Especially the habrochaites crosses. I still have some penellii x seed because it didn't seem as good of an idea to direct seed that because we didn't control the domestic parents on it. So those were longer season domestics x penellii. Have quite a few transplants of that though.

It will be really neat to see if the halflings do better for you direct seeded.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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When I checked the garden today in my warmest field, the volunteer tomatillos and Solanum peruvianum have germinated, and have about two true leaves. The tomatillos in my main field are just getting their first true leaf. I transplanted the first of the tomatoes into my warmest field.

The earliest Solanum physalifolium have germinated and are fairly large plants. Hmm.. A source of cold tolerance in Solanum??? That's the weedy species that I allow to grow for the Colorado Potato Beetles. I hope that this is the year that I finally start a domestication project on it, or at least a seed saving project.
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Solanum physalifolium
 
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