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The TomGEM project to breed tomato varieties adapted to climate change

Launched in March 2016, the TomGEM project (A holistic multi-actor approach towards the design of new tomato varieties and management practices to improve  yield and quality in  the face of climate change) aims to improve the yields and quality of tomato varieties in the context of climate change. Coordinated by the INRA-ENSAT Joint Research Unit for Fruit Genomics and Biotechnology in Toulouse, and supported by the TULIP LabEx, 18 partners (from Europe, Argentina and Taiwan) are involved in this international consortium.

logo tomgem. © INRA
Updated on 01/31/2017
Published on 10/04/2016

With 160 million tonnes produced each year in 170 countries (according to the FAO), the tomato is the second most widely consumed vegetable in the world after the potato.  France produces an average of 350,000 tonnes each year.

French fruits and vegetables constitute an important share of the human diet, and fleshy fruits such as tomatoes, oranges or cherries are a major source of vitamins, trace elements, fibre and antioxidants.  

However, faced with current changes to the climate and forecasts that predict even more extreme conditions in the coming years, the challenge is now to design new fruit and vegetable varieties that will be able to adapt to these environmental conditions while maintaining high quality and yield levels. Although the tomato is the model species being used in this project, it is anticipated that the advances achieved will be extended to other species of agronomic interest.

To achieve their goals, the partners in the TomGEM consortium will be addressing several areas:

-          To screen the genetic resources available worldwide in order to identify genotypes that tolerate high temperatures,

-          To discover the genetic factors and mechanisms that endow this tolerance trait,

-          To use these genotypes to create new varieties that tolerate high temperatures,

-          To design novel management practices adapted to these new varieties.

Fruit set is determined by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors, but it is also impacted by horticultural management practices. By seeking to elucidate the mechanisms which govern genotype/environment interactions, and by integrating management practices, the consortium aims to offer solutions that will respond to two important demands: (1) demands from society concerning the gustatory and nutritional quality of food products, and (2) economic demands from producers to sustain sufficient yields under the conditions of global warming.

Funded by the European Union with a total budget of €5.6 million spread over four years, the consortium comprises 18 establishments in Europe, Argentina and Taiwan (see full list).

The Joint Research Unit for Fruit Genomics and Biotechnology (GBF)

An INRA-INP-ENSAT Joint Research Unit attached to INRA's Plant Biology and Breeding Division (BAP), the GBF carries out research on the molecular mechanisms that govern the growth and ripening of fruits linked to the effects of hormones. The tomato is the main model used by the research unit, which makes substantial contributions to international efforts to generate genomic resources and tools for this species, notably by sequencing the tomato genome.

Mohammed Zouine receives the INP Innov’ Prize for 2016

Mohamed Zouine, lecturer at INP-ENSAT and research scientist in the Joint Research Unit for Fruit Genomics and Biotechnology, obtained the INP Innov' Prize for 2016 in the "international reputation" category. This prize rewards his research work on the tomato genome, and his Erasmus+ project on the creation of a Master's degree in Applied Plant Biotechnologies (M@BioVA) at the Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, in partnership with European and Moroccan universities, research institutes and centres.


Mondher Bouzayen
Director of the GBF, coordinator of the TomGEM project