Exploring Disease Tolerance in Dwarf Tomato Varieties from the Dwarf Tomato Project

Exploring Disease Tolerance in Dwarf Tomato Varieties from the Dwarf Tomato Project
Craig LeHoullier - My review of the Dwarf Tomato Project releases - part 2

The Dwarf Tomato Project has released a number of varieties, but are any of them resistant to Late Blight? Victory Seeds' Mike trials all the varieties before listing them for sale and mentions disease resistance in only a few: 'Dwarf Kelly Green', 'Dwarf Sweet Sue' and 'Summer Sunrise'. He notes that they are quite disease tolerant, though not necessarily resistant.

Carolyn from the Dwarf Tomato Project explains that they had to focus on appearance and flavor first and foremost, as breeding in any disease tolerance was beyond their capability. She suggests that taking some of the best and most interesting releases and starting work on crosses to breed in some disease tolerance would be useful going forward.

JosephineRose shares her experience with the project, noting that 95% of the varieties she has grown have fallen to disease, most before she ever had a crop. She found success with three varieties - Dwarf Purple Heart (small harvest under heavy disease pressure once in three years), Loxton Lad (good harvest, practically all at once) and Uluru Ochre (overwintered and produced a second year). JosephineRose moved on to trying older dwarf varieties instead, finding better results with Russian Dwarfs in general.

LDiane's original question about Late Blight protection is addressed by Mike who believes that any dwarf will likely mirror the disease tolerance of its "family" - the impact of both the male and female components, though there is likely to be variability in releases from each family. While little is quantitatively known about specific disease tolerances for non-hybrid tomato varieties in general, much of it is anecdotal and depends upon accurate assessment of the diseases in a given area.

Overall, while some of the released dwarves may show signs of being quite disease tolerant, none can be said to be completely resistant to Late Blight. Further research into breeding in some disease tolerance is needed if these plants are to become more resilient.

Are any of the released Dwarfs resistant to Late Blight?

No, none of the released Dwarfs are resistant to Late Blight. However, some varieties may have a higher tolerance for disease than others, depending on the characteristics of their parents and the environment in which they are grown.

What is Mike referring to when he mentions 'quite disease tolerant'?

Mike is referring to the specific variety he trialed in that year. He saves lots of seeds from each variety so he has several years worth of seeds available and stores them under conditions where they will lose the least viability.

Did the Dwarf Tomato Project focus on breeding in any disease tolerances?

No, the Dwarf Tomato Project focused on appearance and flavor first and foremost, and did not have the resources or capability to work on breeding in any disease tolerances.

Is it possible to breed in disease tolerance using CRISPR technology?

Yes, it is possible to use CRISPR technology to breed in disease tolerance. However, this requires significant resources and expertise.

What can be done to identify which varieties may already have some built-in disease resistance?

It would be useful if people who have grown these many varieties were to comment on whether any of their various dwarves had survived a wave of disease that 'took out' other plants. This could provide a starting point for testing which ones may already have some built-in disease resistance.

What diseases are impacting tomato plants?

The diseases impacting tomato plants vary widely depending on variety and location. Common diseases include Late Blight, Fusarium Wilt, Verticillium Wilt, Bacterial Speck, Bacterial Spot, Blossom End Rot, Gray Leaf Spot, Alternaria Leaf Spot and Mosaic Virus.

How can I increase my chances of success with Dwarf Tomato Project varieties?

To increase your chances of success with Dwarf Tomato Project varieties, consider growing them in containers with new soil each season and accurately assessing the diseases in your garden. Additionally, you may want to try older Dwarf varieties or Russian Dwarf plants instead.