In what is considered a major step forward in biotechnology research, a group of 300 scientists from across the world, including India, have sequenced the genome of tomato.
The achievement is expected to lower the costs and speed up efforts to improve tomato production, making it better equipped to combat pests and pathogens, and to tolerate droughts.
The work, which has been published in the latest issue of international science journal Nature, is also expected to help in efforts to improve the productivity of other crops.
From India, scientists from the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), the National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology under the Indian Agricultural Research Institute and the Delhi University's South Campus participated in the programme.
Speaking to reporters, director of NIPGR and coordinator of the Indian effort Akhilesh Kumar Tyagi noted that the research would help scientists decipher the relationship between the tomato genes and traits, and broaden their understanding of genetic and environmental factors that interact to determine a crop's health and viability.
The ‘Tomato Genome Consortium' was established after a scientific conference organised in 2003 in the U.S. Its members were drawn from the U.S., the U.K., China, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Israel, Spain, Argentina, and Belgium.
Tomato belongs to a family of vegetables called ‘Solanaceae,' which have a lot of global importance as they serve as sources of food, spices, medicines and ornamentals.