Integration of conventional, molecular, and market driven approaches to develop tomato and spinach cultivars adapted to South Texas production conditions. Grant uri icon


  • The Vegetable Breeding and Genetics research program is located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) at South Texas. The LRGV is an important agricultural center; farming is conducted the entire year and is one of the most important sources of income for part of population living in this region. However, producing vegetables in South Texas represents a real challenge due to high temperatures that limits the production. Also, due to its subtropical weather and geographical location, South Texas is under high pressure of endemic/new pests and diseases. The objective of this research project is to develop high yield, disease/pest resistant tomato and spinach cultivars adapted to South Texas growing conditions. The project will combine conventional breeding and new molecular techniques to develop breeding lines suitable for production in South TexasTomato Project: Production of tomatoes in South Texas has a long tradition. In 1960, Texas growers planted as much tomato as California and Florida, but because of a lack of adequate cultivars and the incidence of pest/disease pressure Texas growers migrated to other crops largely abandoning tomato production. Recently, there is an increasing interest in reactivating the tomato industry due to high demand of locally produced tomatoes. The main disease affecting local production is the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV). In addition, the recent introduction of 'Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum' (Lso) represents a big threat to the re-emergence of the tomato industry. In order to help reactivate tomato production for local consumption, this project will introgress and pyramid TYLCV resistance genes into heat tolerant tomato breeding lines to develop adapted tomato cultivars for South Texas. In addition, consumer preferences will be identified to develop molecular and conventional strategies to improve tomato flavor. Finally, the project in identify, characterize, and introgress vector and Lso resistance from wild tomato relatives.Spinach Project: Spinach is another crop of high importance for South Texas. In the last decade, spinach consumption in US has grown as a result of increased awareness to consume healthier food. However, in order to keep up with this increase in demand, breeding for spinach improvement requires new methods to speed up the development of cultivars with increased yield potential, disease/pest resistance, and desired nutritional and organoleptic characteristics. The major yield and quality-limiting disease in spinach production in the central USA including Texas is White rust (WR), caused by Albugo occidentalis. In addition to disease, mild winters in South Texas favor early bolting, reducing spinach yield and quality. This project will develop molecular SNP markers associated with WR resistance using next generation sequencing and association analysis. SNP markers will accelerate the development of WR and bolt resistant cultivars for south Texas.

date/time interval

  • 2015 - 2020