Improving tomato yield and quality in the face of climate change

TomGEM - a Horizon 2020 research project designs heat-tolerant tomato varieties and management practices

In the light of the forecasted world demographic growth and the global changes in climate, it is becoming a major challenge for society to provide sufficient amounts of fruit of high nutritional and sensory quality. While we are entering a period of increasingly rapid climate change, TomGEM aims to design new strategies to maintain high yields of fruit and vegetables produced at harsh temperature conditions, using the tomato as a reference fleshy fruit crop. TomGEM considers all developmental processes contributing to yield; including flower initiation, pollen fertility and fruit set and implements trans-disciplinary approaches to investigate the impact of high temperature on these traits. TomGEM applies a multi-actor approach involving tomato producers and breeders to provide new targets and innovative breeding and management strategies to foster breeding of new tomato cultivars with improved yield under suboptimal temperature conditions.

The main outcomes of the project are the superior genotypes in terms of tolerance to heat stress and yield stability, but also new genes and new markers that will help the tomato breeders to create new tomato varieties and cultivars that are better suited to high temperature conditions.

Prof. Mondher Bouzayen, TomGEM coordinator
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  • As a young scientist within TomGEM, I had the opportunity to collaborate with lead scientists in the field and to have early access to the new technologies. I extended my academic skills and was able to build on my previous experience. Working in a H2020 project gave me the opportunity to work at different stages of translational research: to work on fundamental, basic research but also at the end of the process, where we are evaluating products that are very close to go to the market.

    Dr Juliana Almeida
    Meet the TomGEM team
  • As a breeding company within the consortium, ENZA ZADEN can provide a very practical point of view as we are in regular contact with the tomato growers and consumers. TomGEM already identified genomic regions that are associated with heat tolerance. Now, we can include those genomic regions into our breeding programme, trying to develop tomato varieties tolerant to heat stress. In the frame of climate change, having varieties that are adapted to high temperature will be a benefit for the tomato growers as production can be maintained and the final consumer will be able to find tomato in a normal situation.

    Dr David Gil
    Meet the TomGEM team
  • As a postdoctoral scientist at the John Innes Centre, I’m working on tomato fruit quality. I tested different tomato genotypes in different fields over three years in order to identify the best ones. After my analysis, I found a particular genotype that has a higher vitamin C content and a good shelf life as well, which made me very happy. For younger scientists, European projects are very beneficial. It is not only possible to meet lead scientists from all over the world and to collaborate with them, but also to grow professionally and personally.

    Dr Antonietta Aliberti
    Meet the TomGEM team
  • Within TomGEM, Alma Seges looked for agronomical practices that could best express the potential of heat tolerant tomato genotypes. We used the “whitening” technique, antiperspirants, bio stimulants and mycorrhizae. The advantage for the producers is that our results rely on real scientific research, unaffected by the promotion and marketing of certain products or tomato varieties. As small agricultural producers, it makes us proud to be part of such an international environment with scientists from all over the world.

    Dr Carlo Schettini
    Meet the TomGEM team

TomGEM Vision

  • Vision 1
    29+ °C

    Climate change threatens global crop production

  • Vision 2
    4.8M ha

    Area of tomato production is the same size as Slovakia

  • Vision 3
    162 MT

    Weight of annual tomato production is roughly equal to that of cattle and swine produce combined

  • Vision 4
    18-29 °C

    Ideal growth temperatures for tomatoes

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