Novel Vegetable Cultivars from TAMU - Improving Human Health Benefits, Flavor and Productivity Academic Article uri icon


  • Texas A&M University and the Texas AgriLife Research have been developing improved vegetable cultivars for 75 years. While yield, appearance, and disease resistance have always been emphasized, nutritional value, and flavor have recently become priorities. This is due to the lack of information about genetic components of many important phytochemicals, and knowledge of strategies to enhance them. The Weslaco vegetable breeding program and the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center (VFIC) have been developing new genetic lines with enhanced levels of beneficial phytochemicals for the last ten years. These include peppers, melons, tomatoes, onions, and carrots. 'TAM Mild Habanero,' 'TAM Ben Villalon' green/red chile, 'TAM Valley Hot' cayenne, 'TAM Dulcito' sweet jalapeno, 'TAM Tropic Bell,' 'TAM Peproncini,' and 'TAM Mild Jalapeo 2,' are new pepper cultivars with improved quality, yield, flavor and antioxidant concentrations. Experimental pepper lines have been developed with greatly enhanced (500-600%) levels of flavonoids and ascorbic acid, compared to popular commercial cultivars. These will be commercialized within the next few years. New melon cultivars include 'Pacal' orange casaba and 'Chujuc' cantaloupe, both with high levels of betacarotene and sugars, along with excellent flavor. New tomato lines with enhanced vitamin C levels and virus resistance are also being developed for the fresh market. A genome map of melon, focusing on important quality traits such as beta-carotene and sugars has also been developed. The novel DNA markers are utilized to expedite selection and cultivar development. Quality traits and the genes which condition them are now more important than ever before in vegetable breeding programs. VFIC and Texas AgriLife Research will continue to develop improved cultivars with enhanced human health benefits.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Crosby, K. M., Jifon, J. L., Yoo, K. S., & Leskovar, D. I.

complete list of authors

  • Crosby, KM||Jifon, JL||Yoo, Kil Sun||Leskovar, DI

publication date

  • December 2009