Leading The Way Discovering Rugose Virus Resistance

Vineland’s greenhouse tomatoes-on-the-vine (TOVs) breeding program – the only one of its kind in Canada – has focused since 2013 on developing high yielding varieties with improved flavour and production traits adapted to Canada’s climate. 

The program reaped success in 2019 with the commercial release of three TOV varieties with new and differentiated flavour profiles preferred by consumers. 

That same year, thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), the focus of the breeding project is now encompassing resistance to diseases including the devastating tomato brown rugose fruit virus for which currently no resistant cultivars exist. 

“Our rugose project plans to identify a source of resistance to the virus and then develop a genetic marker – laboratory-tested – that will allow us to quickly breed rugose resistance into our tomato lines,” said Travis Banks, Vineland’s Director, Plant Variety Development.

The Vineland team is involved in two separate efforts to identify rugose resistance. First, a collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to screen hundreds of diverse tomato lines from Vineland’s germplasm collection. Also underway is a collaboration with a group of international breeding organizations to screen a large set of germplasm in Europe and Asia. This collaboration has been fruitful and promising sources of resistance have been identified. These have been integrated into Vineland’s breeding program to add resistance to our  Canadian-adapted TOVs.

“Industry and government have been clear that addressing this new disease is a top priority. Vineland is working as quickly as possible and Ontario-adapted TOVs from our breeding program with rugose resistance are on the horizon,” said Banks.

This TOV research breeding program is funded through AAFC, OGVG and OMAFRA.