Solanum lycopersicum (Tomato)


After its introduction in Europe the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) has gone a long way. Dedicated breeding has resulted in numerous cultivars grown all over the world, differing in all kind of aspects such as yield, shape, resistance, taste and quality. Modern cultivars are sold as hybrids with a very good performance. Since some decades the genetic variation of tomato and wild tomato relatives is conserved and successfully exploited to introgress genes resulting in tomatoes better able to cope with biotic and abiotic stress. Tomato has become a model species for genetic and genomic studies and the sequence of the gene‐rich regions will be determined in the near future.

Key concepts:

  • Mexico is presumed to be the most probable region of tomato domestication, and Peru the centre of diversity of tomato wild relatives.

  • The cultivated tomato has been renamed from Lycopersicum esculentum to Solanum lycopersicum.

  • Tomatoes can be used either for fresh consumption or for processing.

  • Heirloom cultivars are older tomato varieties; in greenhouses nowadays mainly hybrid cultivars are grown.

  • Tomato cultivars grow either indeterminate or determinate.

  • The cultivated tomato has 12 wild relatives. These wild tomatoes have a large genetic diversity, which has contributed greatly to the breeding of modern tomato cultivars.

  • Several institutions are nowadays dedicated to the conservation of the genetic variation present within S. lycopersicum and in tomato wild relatives.

  • Tomato is a model species for classical genetic and genomic studies. It has a chromosome number of 2n=2x=24 and a modest genome size (950 Mb/haploid genome).

  • Tomato genomic data are freely available at the SOL Genomics Network database (SGN;

Keywords: breeding; genetics and genomics; hybrids; Solanaceae; Solanum lycopersicum

Figure 1.

An indeterminate tomato cultivar for fresh consumption grown under greenhouse conditions.

Figure 2.

Tomato inflorescence with simple (or potato) leaves in the background.

Figure 3.

Morphological diversity of Solanum lycopersicum cultivars.


Further Reading

Bai Y and Lindhout P (2007) Domestication and breeding of tomatoes: what have we gained and what can we gain in the future? Annual of Botany 100: 1085–1094.

Borevitz JO and Ecker JR (2004) Plant genomics: the third wave. Annual Review of Genomics Human Genetics 5: 443–477.

Collard BC and Mackill DJ (2008) Marker‐assisted selection: an approach for precision plant breeding in the twenty‐first century. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 363: 557–572.

Frary A, Nesbitt TC, Grandillo S et al. (2000) fw2.2: a quantitative trait locus key to the evolution of tomato fruit size. Science 289: 85–88.

Spooner DM, Peralta IE and Knapp S (2005) Comparison of AFLPs to other markers for phylogenetic inference in wild tomatoes [Solanum L. section Lycopersicon (Mill.) Wettst. subsection Lycopersicon]. Taxon 54: 43–61.

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How to Cite close
Pavan, Stefano, van Heusden, Adriaan W, and Bai, Yuling(Mar 2009) Solanum lycopersicum (Tomato). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0003686]