Tomato grafting

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Grafted tomato plants Mature-in-tray.gif
Grafted tomato plants

Tomato grafting is a horticulture technique that has been utilized worldwide in Asia and Europe for greenhouse and high tunnel production and is gaining popularity in the United States. [1] Typically, stock or rootstock are selected for their ability to resist infection by certain soilborne pathogens or their ability to increase vigor and fruit yield. The scion of the grafted tomato represents the upper portion of the plant and is selected for its fruit quality characteristics. There are several methods for grafting tomatoes and they have certain advantages and disadvantages. Once the grafts are made, the plants are moved into a chamber or environment with high relative humidity (>90%) and low light levels to reduce water stress in the scion while the graft union forms.


History of vegetable grafting

Grafting of woody plants has been common for centuries, but herbaceous grafting has only become popular recently in agricultural systems. The cultivation of grafted vegetable plants began in Korea and Japan at the end of the 1920s when watermelon plants were grafted onto squash rootstock[1]. Since this time, this technique has spread throughout Asia and Europe. Currently, 81% of Korean and 54% of Japanese vegetable cultivation uses grafting. [2] The use of this cultural technique is mainly carried out for intensive cropping systems like greenhouse and tunnel production. This method is especially popular for vegetable production in the orient, and the number of vegetables in 1998 was estimated to be 540 million transplants in Korea and 750 million in Japan. [3] This technique has moved to the Mediterranean region as well, where the use of grafting has been proposed as a major component of an integrated management strategy for managing soilborne disease and increasing crop productivity. Grafted tomato transplant production has increased in Spain from less than one million plants in 1999–2000 to over 45 million plants in 2003–2004. Grafted tomato is also cultivated in France and Italy, and over 20 million tomato plants were grafted in Morocco in 2004 as a way to reduce soilborne disease and increase crop production. [4]

Grafting can take place on a number of crops. However, because of the added expense, it is typically associated with melons, cucurbits, and members of the family Solanaceae such as eggplant and tomato. Tomato grafting became popular in the 1960s as a way to reduce certain diseases caused by soilborne plant pathogens such as Raletonia solanacearum[1]. Currently, however, grafting is used to offer not only protection from certain diseases, but also tolerance to abiotic stress like flooding, drought, and salinity [2].

Fruit yield

The first grafts in the early 20th century were made in order to diminish attacks by infectious organisms, such as Fusarium oxysporum on watermelons. [2] However, research has shown that this technique can be effective against a variety of fungal, bacterial, viral, and nematode diseases. [5] Furthermore, many researchers are looking to utilize specific rootstocks as an alternative to methyl bromide-a soil fumigant that has been widely used until recently.[4] Grafting has been highly effective at overcoming abiotic sources of stress, such as soil salinity, temperature extremes, and excessive soil moisture.[2] Grafting has also been utilized to reduce the effects of flooding in areas where a wet season may occur. [6]

Grafting tomatoes with tolerant rootstocks has been highly effective at producing a saline-tolerant plants. Research indicates that several rootstocks prevent the translocation of sodium and chloride into the shoot. [7] Many of the most economically important vegetable crops like tomato, squash, cucumber, and watermelon are highly sensitive to thermal stress in the roots throughout vegetative development and reproduction. Whether using rootstock tolerant of hot or cold temperatures, the use of temperature tolerant rootstocks often leads to the extension of the growing season in either direction, resulting in better yield and economic stability through the year.[2] Although the vegetable grafting is typically associated with reduction of disease or abiotic stress, yield is often increased without the presence of these identified sources of stress.

In tomatoes, increases in fruit yield are typically the results of increased fruit size. [8] Research has shown that possible mechanisms for increased yield are likely due to increased water and nutrient uptake among vigorous rootstock genotypes. Conductance through the stoma was improved in tomato plants when grafted onto vigorous rootstock.[7] Nutrient uptake for the macronutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, were enhanced by grafting. [9] [10]

Tomato grafting methods

There are a variety of methods for grafting vegetable crops. Cleft grafting occurs when a V-shape is cut into the rootstock and a complementing wedge-shaped scion is inserted. The graft is then held with a small clip until healing occurs. [11] Approach grafting involves notching opposing sides of the stems of the rootstock and scion, and then using a clip to hold the stems together while they fuse. Once the graft has healed, the original scion is then cut off of the desired rootstock and the unused rootstock is detached from the scion. [12] Micrografting is a new technique that has been recently integrated into micropropagation production for hybrid tomato. This method uses micropropagated scion shoots that grafted onto 3 week-old rootstock seedlings. [13] The most common commercial technique for grafting tomato is tube grafting. Tube grafting takes place when the scion and rootstock are severed as seedlings and reattached with a small, silicone tube or clip. [14] [15] This technique has been highly effective as it can be carried out when plants are very small, thereby eliminating the need for large healing chambers while increasing the output. Tube grafting has been adopted as the primary method for vegetable grafting on the farm as it can be easily carried out with small healing chambers with typical success rates ranging from 85 to 90 percent [14].

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Fruit tree propagation

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Brassinosteroid Class of plant hormones

Brassinosteroids (BRs) are a class of polyhydroxysteroids that have been recognized as a sixth class of plant hormones and may have utility as an anticancer drug for endocrine-responsive cancers to induce apoptosis and inhibit growth. These brassinosteroids were first explored during the 70s, when Mitchell et al. reported promotion in stem elongation and cell division by the treatment of organic extracts of rapeseed pollen. Brassinolide was the first isolated brassinosteroid in 1979, when pollen from Brassica napus was shown to promote stem elongation and cell divisions, and the biologically active molecule was isolated. The yield of brassinosteroids from 230 kg of Brassica napus pollen was only 10 mg. Since their discovery, over 70 BR compounds have been isolated from plants.

A rootstock is part of a plant, often an underground part, from which new above-ground growth can be produced. It could also be described as a stem with a well developed root system, to which a bud from another plant is grafted. It can refer to a rhizome or underground stem. In grafting, it refers to a plant, sometimes just a stump, which already has an established, healthy root system, onto which a cutting or a bud from another plant is grafted. In some cases, such as vines of grapes and other berries, cuttings may be used for rootstocks, the roots being established in nursery conditions before planting them out. The plant part grafted onto the rootstock is usually called the scion. The scion is the plant that has the properties that propagator desires above ground, including the photosynthetic activity and the fruit or decorative properties. The rootstock is selected for its interaction with the soil, providing the roots and the stem to support the new plant, obtaining the necessary soil water and minerals, and resisting the relevant pests and diseases. After a few weeks the tissues of the two parts will have grown together, eventually forming a single plant. After some years it may be difficult to detect the site of the graft although the product always contains the components of two genetically different plants.

Orange (fruit) Citrus fruit

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Grafting or graftage is a horticultural technique whereby tissues of plants are joined so as to continue their growth together. The upper part of the combined plant is called the scion while the lower part is called the rootstock. The success of this joining requires that the vascular tissues grow together and such joining is called inosculation. The technique is most commonly used in asexual propagation of commercially grown plants for the horticultural and agricultural trades.

Napa cabbage

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Istituto di Genetica Vegetale

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Genetically modified tomato

A genetically modified tomato, or transgenic tomato, is a tomato that has had its genes modified, using genetic engineering. The first trial genetically modified food was a tomato engineered to have a longer shelf life, but never made it to market. Currently there are no genetically modified tomatoes available commercially, but scientists are developing tomatoes with new traits like increased resistance to pests or environmental stresses. Other projects aim to enrich tomatoes with substances that may offer health benefits or be more nutritious. As well as aiming to produce novel crops, scientists produce genetically modified tomatoes to understand the function of genes naturally present in tomatoes.


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Eggplant production in China

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Pomato Chimaera

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  2. Rivero, R. M., J. M. Ruiz, et al. (2003). "Role of Grafting in Horticultural Plants Under Stress Conditions." Food, Agriculture, & Environment 1(1): 70-74
  3. Lee, J. M., H. J. Bang, et al. (1998). "Grafting of vegetables." Journal of the Japanese Society for Horticultural Science 67(6): 1098-1104
  4. Besri, M. (2005). Current Situation of Tomato Grafting as Alternative to Methyl Bromide for Tomato Production in the Mediterranean Region. 2005 Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reductions San Diego, CA USA.
  5. King, S. R., Davis, A. R., Liu, W. G., and Levi, A. 2008. Grafting for disease resistance. HortScience. Pg 1673-1676
  6. Black, L.L., D.L. Wu, J.F. Wang, T. Kalb, D. Abbass, and J.H. Chen. 2003 Grafting tomatoes for production in the hot-wet season. Asian Vegetable Research & Development Center
  7. Fernandez-Garcia, N., V. Martinez, A. Cerda, and M. Carvajal. 2002. Water and nutrient uptake of grafted tomato plants grown under saline conditions. Journal of Plant Physiology 159 (8):899-905
  8. Pogonyi, A., Z. Pek, L. Helyes, and A. Lugasi 2005 Grafting tomatoes for early forcing in spring has a major impact on the overall quality of main fruit components. Acta Alimentaria 34:453-462
  9. Leonardi, C., and F. Giuffrida. 2006 Variation of plant growth and macro-nutrient uptake in grafted tomatoes and eggplants on three different rootstocks. European Journal of Horticultural Science 71:97-101
  10. Ruiz, J. M., and L. Romero. 1999. Nitrogen efficiency and metabolism in grafted melon plants. Scientia Horticulturae 81:113-123
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  12. Lee, J. M. 2003. Advances in Vegetable Grafting. Chronica Horticulturae 43 (2):13-19
  13. Grigoriadis, I., I. Nianiou-Obeidat, and A. S. Tsaftaris. 2005. Shoot regeneration and micrografting of micropropagated hybrid tomatoes. Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology 80:183-186
  14. Oda, M. 1995. New grafting methods for fruit-bearing vegetables in Japan. Japan Agricultural Research Quarterly 29:187-194
  15. Rivard, C. L., and Louws, F. J. 2006. Grafting for Disease Resistance in Heirloom Tomatoes College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, ed. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.