Harnessing natural variation is an important aspect of modern marker assisted breeding. Traditionally breeding programmes have focused on increased yield and resistance to biotic and abiotic pressures. However, consumer demands for improved quality have lead to increased effort into the breeding of nutritional quality traits in crop plants. In the present study, health-related phytochemicals (carotenoids, tocopherols and phenolics) present in green, yellow and red wild relatives of tomato have been analyzed during fruit development and ripening. This study shows that the differences in the final colour of the fruits were due to a distinct accumulation of carotenoids mainly related to the expression of the phytoene synthase-1 gene (Psy-1). In ripe red-fruited tomatoes, the different deposition of pigments gave rise in some cases to colour differences visually discernible by the consumer. Important quantitative differences between and across taxa were noticed for the in vitro antioxidant activity (AA) of the samples.
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