Israel is one of the leading countries in the technology of breeding varieties and growing tomatoes, AgroNews writes.
For example, Israeli tomato seeds are highly valued all over the world for the quality by which tomatoes can be successfully transported.
“We develop seeds that cost more per ounce than gold,” says Haim D. Rabinovich, a tomato expert, a professor at the Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
AgroNews presents TOP-5 innovations created by Israeli experts for tomato agriculture.
- Cherry Tomatoes
Even though it is believed that this variety originated from South America, the “fathers” of its classic modern variety are the scientists Haim Rabinovich and Nahum Keidar from the agrotechnical department of the Hebrew University in Rehovot.
In 1973, they bred a variety of cherry tomatoes, using a combination of genes to slow the rapid ripening of ordinary tomatoes in the conditions of the Israeli heat.
The ancient cherry tomatoes were degenerated into weeds and lost their unique taste and aroma, which the scientists managed to return by modern breeding. In addition, primitive cherry tomatoes were not suitable for storage, but Israeli scientists coped with this task too.
Along with vitamins and minerals, tomatoes contain lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient that makes them red.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant useful for the heart, blood pressure, prostate, bones, and skin. Our bodies best absorb lycopene when we eat tomatoes mixed with something fat, such as olive oil or cheese.
“Lycored” international company was founded in Beersheba in 1995 to produce lycopene-rich oils from local tomato extracts.
Today, the company exports natural dyes and extracts to North America, Europe, and Asia as food additives and for medical purposes.
“Lycored” is experimenting with tomato varieties, such as golden tomatoes, which contain phytonutrients that protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation.
3. Fighting a Brown Wrinkled Monster
The Volcani Agriculture Institute has devoted the last three decades of its nearly century-old history to researching the resistance of elite tomato varieties to diseases using genomics and bioinformatics.
For example, scientists have identified tomato genes that contain more fructose than glucose, which is twice as sweet. Because of this, they have found a way to make varieties resistant to the TBRFV virus, which is rapidly spreading around the world.
TBRFV does not affect human health, but reduces the yield of tomatoes by 50%, they lose their presentation and become brown and wrinkled.
4. No Pests, But no Chemicals
Israeli agricultural experts are looking for ways to protect tomatoes from insects and pathogens without spraying vegetables with chemicals.
“We use from 8 to 10 different genes in all modern tomatoes, which are responsible for the built-in resistance mechanism,” says Rabinovich.
Scientists use sticky yellow and blue ribbons that attract insect with colors and shades of blue, which a particular kind of mold is afraid of.
The researchers still have a lot of methods in the arsenal. But some insects, bacteria, and fungi survive chemical attacks and not all viruses can be controlled by pesticides. “We are trying to breed varieties of tomatoes with genes of resistance these viruses,” the scientist adds.
5. Resistance to heat
If an unripe green tomato is placed in a room temperature, it will turn red, but this will not happen when the heat is 30 degrees. Lycopene is not produced at this temperature.
When +29°C, flowers of tomatoes develop incorrectly and do not give fruit. And even a small temperature increase significantly accelerates the life cycle of insects.
Israeli researchers develop tomato seeds that can withstand extreme heat and other effects of climate change. Such as increasing the level of carbon dioxide and increasing the salinity of the water.
Pests constantly mutate and new viruses appear, therefore, the scope of work for specialists is provided for many years to come.