Jonata Freschi
Year: 2015
Faculty Advisor: Jim Giovannoni

Fine tuning of the Solanum lycopersicoides introgression population and carotenoid analysis of selected lines.

The tomato fruit is one of the most consumed vegetables in the world, however its nutritional values has decreased in the past decades as an undesirable result of selection for greater yield and longer shelf life. In order to enhance nutritional properties in tomato, current efforts are focusing on increasing the levels of amino acids, vitamins, micronutrients and antioxidants. Tomato introgression lines were proved to serve as a powerful tool in exploiting natural genetic variation, enabling introduction of desired traits into cultivated lines. S. lycopersicoides potentially possess such an important genetic pool.  Not much work has been conducted on this population due to high heterozygosity and multiple insertions. In order to cope with this complexity, we have developed genetic markers to screen and fine tune the population. In addition, carotenoid analysis has been conducted on fruits of selected lines within the population to identify associated QTLs. This work serves as the basis for further extensive genetic and biochemical screening of the population which will enable to exploit its potential.

My Experience

Working with Dr. Giovannoni’s lab team was a unique experience for many different reasons. First, it is a multicultural lab and I was able to meet people from all around the world, with different cultural backgrounds and ways of not only thinking, but also problem solving. This, in my opinion, helped me to improve myself as a future researcher, team member, and even as a better person. In addition, Dr. Giovannoni has a brilliant way to lead the lab group, encouraging independence in research and at the same time providing a pleasant working environment. Throughout my time in the lab I had a chance to be engaged in the preparation and management of a tomato field, all the while learning current approaches in molecular biology and biotechnology as a tool to understand the novels in tomato ripening. In the end, BTI provided everything that I needed, and everybody in the department was always willing to help. Working at BTI increased my passion for research.