Rewiring of the Fruit Metabolome in Tomato Breeding

Cell. 2018 Jan 11;172(1-2):249-261.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.019.


Humans heavily rely on dozens of domesticated plant species that have been further improved through intensive breeding. To evaluate how breeding changed the tomato fruit metabolome, we have generated and analyzed a dataset encompassing genomes, transcriptomes, and metabolomes from hundreds of tomato genotypes. The combined results illustrate how breeding globally altered fruit metabolite content. Selection for alleles of genes associated with larger fruits altered metabolite profiles as a consequence of linkage with nearby genes. Selection of five major loci reduced the accumulation of anti-nutritional steroidal glycoalkaloids in ripened fruits, rendering the fruit more edible. Breeding for pink tomatoes modified the content of over 100 metabolites. The introgression of resistance genes from wild relatives in cultivars also resulted in major and unexpected metabolic changes. The study reveals a multi-omics view of the metabolic breeding history of tomato, as well as provides insights into metabolome-assisted breeding and plant biology.

Keywords: domestication; flavonoid; fruit weight; genome; linkage drag; metabolome; multi-omics; steroidal glycoalkaloid; tomato; transcriptome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Flavonoids / genetics
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Fruit / genetics*
  • Fruit / growth & development
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics*
  • Metabolome*
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Plant Breeding / methods*
  • Selective Breeding


  • Flavonoids