An introduction to biodiversity.
A simple explanation of what biodiversity is, how we make sense of it and its importance to us. Plus an introduction to the biodiversity of potatoes and tomatoes.
A sweet wild tomato from the coast of South America, useful for its drought tolerance and pest resistance.
A herb with thin branches that twines around other plants. It stays alive for one or two years. This species is a close relative of the commercial tomato and can be difficult to identify because of high variability. Leaves are medium in size and often a bit purplish, quite similar to the commercial tomato in overall appearance. There are fewer hairs on the plant than in other wild tomatoes. The petals are long and thin. Ripe fruit is red with no hairs, much smaller than cultivated tomato fruit. The seeds are silky with narrow wings.
Taste / cooking
Solanum pimpinellifolium is edible and tastes sweet. It is grown by plant breeders and used to improve flavours of commercial varieties of tomatoes.
Specific nutritional benefits
Habitat / growing
Grows in dry places near the sea, but sometimes as high up as 1400 metres above sea level. It is found in Ecuador, Peru and Chile and also grows in the Galápagos Islands.
Solanum pimpinellifolium has a better ability to grow in dry conditions than the commercial tomato, because it naturally grows in places with less water. It has been used in breeding programs to create tomatoes that can grow in drier places.
The gene called Cf-9 makes Solanum pimpinellifolium resistant to the leaf mould fungus Cladosporium fulvum. When a fungal attack happens, a chemical encoded by Cf-9 recognises a chemical produced by the fungus, and the plant kills living tissue issue around the infection making sure it cannot spread and infect the rest of the plant. This gene has been used in breeding programs to make other tomatoes resistant to leaf mould. Some populations are also resistant to the bacterial spot pathogen.