Grafting tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) onto the rootstock of a high-altitude accession of Solanum habrochaites improves suboptimal-temperature tolerance

J.H. Venema, B.E Dijk, J.M Bax, P.R. van Hasselt, J.T.M. Elzenga

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Grafting is regarded as a promising tool to broaden the temperature optimum of elite tomato cultivars. However, suitable low-temperature tolerant tomato rootstocks are not yet available and its breeding is hampered by a lack of variation in low-temperature tolerance within the cultivated tomato. In this study, therefore, the impact of grafting tomato (Solanum lycopersicum Mill. cv. Moneymaker, Sl) onto the rootstock of a cold-tolerant high-altitude accession of a related wild species (Solanum habrochaites LA 1777 Humb. & Bonpl., Sh) was examined at different combinations of optimal (25 degrees C) and/or suboptimal (15 degrees C) air/root-zone temperatures (RZT), i.e. 25/25, 25/15, 15/25 and 15/15 degrees C. Self-grafted tomato plants were used as controls. Both scion/rootstock combinations, Sl/Sl and Sl/Sh, were grown hydroponically and compared for biomass production and partitioning, plant morphology, carbohydrate partitioning and leaf C and N status. Grafting tomato onto Sh increased the relative growth rate of shoots with 26 and 11% at 25/15 and 15/15 degrees C, respectively. This increase could be attributed to stimulation of the leaf expansion rate. Graft combinations with Sh rootstocks were characterized by higher root mass ratios, particularly at 15 degrees C RZT. Suboptimal RZT strongly reduced the relative growth rate of Sl roots but not of Sh. This was correlated to differences in inhibition of root elongation. In contrast to tomato grafted onto Sh, leaf total C and total N concentrations increased in self-grafted tomato plants in response to 15 degrees C RZT. The increase in leaf total C concentration of Sl/Sl graft combinations at 15 degrees C RZT could be ascribed largely to starch accumulation. This study illustrates that growth of vegetative tomato plants at suboptimal temperature is for a significant part inhibited by its poor root development. Grafting tomato onto a low-temperature rootstock provides an alternative tool to reduce, in part, the grow-limiting effects of suboptimal RZ temperature on the shoot. To improve the low-temperature tolerance of existing commercial tomato rootstocks, S. habrochaites LA 1777 appeared to be a valuable germplasm pool. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-367
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - May-2008


  • grafting
  • rootstock
  • root-zone heating
  • Solanum habrochaites
  • Solanum lycopersicum
  • suboptimal temperature
  • tomato

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