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The History of Tomato


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The History of Tomato
By Andrey Popov

The term “tomato” refers to the edible fruit or the plant called Solanum lycopersicum that bears it. The scientific species epithet Lycopersicum was given to the tomato by French botanist Tournefort[4]. It translates as “wolfpeach” and possibly comes from German werewolf myths. Those myths said that deadly nightshade was used to call werewolves. Tomato has a similar but much larger fruit which was called “wolfpeach” when it arrived to Europe[5].
The tomato originated in South America and was spread around the world through the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Today its many varieties are widely grown, often in cooler climates in greenhouses. It belongs to the nightshade family. The tomato has a weak stem that often vines around other plants and it usually grows to 1-3 meters in height. The tomato fruit is consumed in different ways such as raw, as an ingredient in drinks, many dishes and sauces. Its fruit is rich in lycopene, which has potential health benefits. It lives for more than two years in its native habitat, however if grown outdoors in temperate climates its life period is often annual[3].

The origin of tomato
Where did the tomato came from? Tomatoes have been grown in gardens around the world and in many places cultivation of the tomato goes back centuries. It is not always easy to pinpoint where it all begun. The idea put forward by Russian scientist Vavilov states that if one wants to determine the center of origin of any crop species, one must look for the area which still has the highest diversity of that crop. This is based on the idea that only a portion of the wild plant gene pool will be included into a domesticated plant line. By this logic, the cultivated crop will represent only a portion of genetic variety found in the wild ancestors which probably inhabit the same area, in more or less similar form. Therefore one may consider the western coast of South America, in present day Peru, as an original birthplace of the tomato because there are eight species of the tomato that still grow wild in the Andes Mountains[1].
The assumption that the tomato came from South America and that the tomato was an important crop among New World Indians by the 15th century is now supported by strong evidence. From Peru wild ancestor of the tomato travelled north at some time several thousand years prior to the Spanish exploration of Central America in the early 16th century. Tomato species known as L. esculentum cerasiforme were widely cultivated throughout Central America when the first conquistadors arrived in the Yucatan area of what is now known as Mexico[6].

The domestication of tomato
Most evidence supports that the tomato was first domesticated in Central America. The strongest evidence is cultural. Since Pre-Columbian cultures in Peru usually decorated their pottery and textiles with depictions of crops and important figures, it is considerable that depictions of tomatoes on artifacts have not been found. If the tomato was indeed domesticated in this area, one would expect to find tomato depictions on artifacts[1].
Additionally, there is a linguistic evidence that supports this theory. The word that wild Central American tribes used for tomato is “tomati” and the Aztecs of Central America called it “xitomatl”. However, the records of ancient Peruvian tribes do not mention a tomato-like fruit as being a part of their diet or even a word meaning tomato, while Aztec writings mention dishes that include tomato such as a possible original salsa recipe[1].
There is also a genetic evidence to support Central American domestication. Genetic analysis of old species descended from the original stock taken out of Central America by the Spanish showed that modern species are more closely related to those grown in Mexico at that time than to any wild species in Peru. These species were later named cerasiforme as the variety of the domesticated tomato considered to be the direct ancestor of modern cultivated tomato. Its variety still grows wild in Central America and it is commonly known as cherry tomato. Finally we can conclude that initial domestication of tomato took place in Central America since there is no genetically similar species in South America to the domesticates that were known to be cultivated in Central America[1].

The spread of tomato around the world
There is a less conclusive evidence of how tomato travelled to Central America. One possible explanation is that it could have spread as a weed of maize and beans grown by the natives. Many crops of immense importance in the modern world were considered weeds at one time or another. Over time, a weed in a crop production system evolves under selection pressures and becomes dependant on the irrigation and fertile soil so it becomes domesticated too. Another possible explanation is that migrating natives traded seeds of cultivated crops and could have spread the seeds of tomato along with it[6].
In 1521 the Spanish explorer Cortez captured the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan which was later renamed Mexico City. It is assumed that conquistadors brought the tomato across the Atlantic to Europe soon after. However, Christopher Columbus, a Genoese who worked for the Spanish monarchy, may have taken them to Europe in 1493[3]. Spanish also distributed the tomato throughout their Caribbean colonies. They also took it to the Philippines from where it soon spread to southeast Asia and later to the whole Asian continent. The earliest mention of the tomato found in European literature was in a herbal written by Andrea Matiolli in 1544. He described tomato which in Italy was called the golden apple (pomi d’oro) as being “eaten in Italy with oil, salt and pepper”[1]. This gives us an evidence that the first tomatoes to reach Europe were of a yellow kind, and that they were brought via Mediterranean. They were probably of the same small-fruited variety cultivated by the Aztecs[4]. There is an evidence that the red variety of tomatoes was introduced to Europe by two Catholic priests many years later[1].
The conquistadors first brought tomato to Spain and the name Moor’s apple (pome dei Moro) was probably among the first in Europe. The widespread cultivation of tomato started in the following decades in Spain, Italy and France where it got the name love apple or pomme d’amour most likely because of the corruption of the early Spanish name or because of the suspected aphrodisiac qualities of the tomato. The tomatoes were used in limited manner as a food in Mediterranean countries but at the same time they were regarded with suspicion in the Northern Europe for over a century. English authors mentioned tomato as a horticultural ornamental as early as 1578. One English author acknowledged in 1596 that these “love apples” were used as food abroad but further describes them “stinking” and unfit for consumption. By 1623 four types of tomatoes were known: red, yellow, orange and golden. The first cookbook to mention tomatoes was published in Naples in 1692. By 1700 seven types of tomatoes are mentioned in an article including the large red type[1]. As it was mentioned before not all European countries accepted the tomato peacefully upon its introduction. Northern cultures associated the tomato plant with poisonous members of solanceae family, such as deadly nightshade, henbane and mindrake to which it was similar in apperiance[5][1]. Deadly nightshade or Atropus belladonna has a particularly similar looks to that of a tomato plant. Deadly nightshade is a poisonous plant which was used across Europe as a beauty aid as well as hallucinogenic drug. Ladies in medieval courts would apply a few drops of nightshade extract to their eyes to dilate the pupils for a fashionable look of the time. The name belladonna or a beautiful lady is a reference to this practice. Another reference to its properties is in the botanical name of the tomato Lycopersicon esculentum which was associated with the Nightshade[1]. The hallucinogenic effect of the nightshade made it closely associated with witchcraft and the old German folklore describes witches summoning werewolves using the nightshade plant. Thus the German name for tomato translates as “wolfpeach” and it became a part of its botanical name[3].
In England the tomato was not grown until the 1590’s. One of the earliest cultivators of the tomato was John Gerard a barber-surgeon (medical practitioner). In his Herbal published in 1597 and largely copied from European sources he brought up one of the earliest discussions of the tomato in England. Gerard believed it was poisonous, although he knew it was eaten in Italy and Spain at the time. His views were so influential that the tomato was considered not suitable for eating for many years not only in Britain but also in its North American colonies. However by 18th century tomatoes were widely eaten in Britain and were officially described as in daily use in soups and as a garnish[3].
The tomato cultivation began in the Middle East since it was introduced by John Barker, British council in Aleppo (Syria) from 1799 to 1825. In support of this claim in1881 it is described as only eaten in the region “within the last forty years”. Middle Eastern sources in the 19th century describe tomato as an ingredient in a cooked dish. The tomato then was spread through the Middle East. It entered Iran via Turkey and Armenia. The other route was through the Qajar royal family (Iranian) who travelled to France frequently. The early Iranian name for the tomato was Armenian eggplant (Armani badenjan) which supports Armenian introduction route claim. Today the name used for tomato in Iran is foreign plum (gojeh farangi)[3].
The tomato plants were brought to North America by colonists as ornamentals from Britain. They valued tomato fruits for pustule removing properties. The earliest account of tomatoes being grown in British North America is from 1710. The herbalist William Salmon reported seeing them in what today is South Carolina. One suggestion is that they may have been brought from the Caribbean. By the mid-18th century tomatoes were cultivated on some Carolina plantations and probably in some other parts of the southeast[3]. George Washington Carver, the man who popularized peanut butter, strongly advocated tomato consumption among his poor Alabama neighbors to improve their vitamin-deficient diet, but was largely unsuccessful. The efforts by merchants to promote their crops were not highly successful. One account describes that the fruit was brought to the liberal hamlet of Salem, Massachusetts in 1802 by a painter who had difficulty even convincing people to taste the fruit. Although New Orleans cuisine is reported to have included tomato by 1812, suspicion about the fruit remained widespread. Existing doubts about the safety of the tomato were apparently over in 1820, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson announced that at noon on September 26, he would eat a bushel of tomatoes in front of the Boston courthouse. The story goes that thousands of eager spectators came to watch the poor man die after eating the poisonous fruits, and were shocked when nothing happened to him. An old farm journal, where this story was found may be less reliable than it is entertaining. Nevertheless, around the western world tomatoes began to steadily gain popularity[1].

The modern history of tomato

Tomato production in western countries began to rapidly increase in the early 1920's with the introduction of mass canning. Canning of tomatoes was first recoprded in 1847 by Harrison Crosby of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Before 1890 all tomato canning was done by hand. Mechanized peeling tables were put into use in the 1890's. Juice extractors were invented in the 1920's. Soon after, an entrepreneur named Joseph Campbell found a ready market for canned tomato products and started his soup company which later would make millions. High-solids varieties have been introduced to maximize paste and solids for canning. Roma tomato variety is a backyard favorite spanning half a century of cultivation and has been widely used for sauces because of its high solids content[1].
As the potential for introducing new traits into tomato species through hybridization with wild relatives became more profitable, the Tomato Genetics Cooperative was established at Cornell University in 1951 to collect and distribute useful germplasm for breeding projects. Additionally, tomato germplasm is kept in storage at the USDA National Seed Storage Laboratory in Fort Collins, Colorado[1].
The most recent contribution to tomato breeding has been biotechnology. It sparked a serious debate in the society about the controversial effect of those products on health. For years merchants have tried to balance a good tasting fruit with a fruit which could be successfully shipped to maximize profits. Ripe tomatoes are very soft, easily damaged, and begin to decline in quality after only a few days[2]. Tomatoes ripen off the vine in response to the chemical ethylene, which is produced by the fruit as the development of the seeds nears finishing point. Traditionally, growers pick the fruits in the green-mature stage just as the shoulders of the fruit lose their dark green color. The fruit is then shipped to other locations, sometimes thousands of miles, and resists bruising or rotting because of its immature stage when it is still tough. The fruits are usually red by the time they reach their destination, or they can be induced to ripen with the application of an ethylene spray[1].
Consumers complained that taste of the tomato suffers because it is picked prematurely. In the 1980's a project was undertaken by Calgene Fresh, Inc. using biotechnology to change the tomato genetics to inactivate the gene responsible for softening the tomato during ripeness. These tomatoes turned red, but remained firm nevertheless[2]. The practice of picking tomatoes green could be abandoned and the consumers would no longer complain. They called this variety Flavr Savr because of the fact that it ripened on the vine supposedly gave it better flavor. It appeared on the produce sections of stores in the US during 1993[1].
The Flavr Savr tomato turned to be one of the greatest public relations failures of the 90s. The producers severely underestimated the public's concern over genetically modified products, and failed to foresee the criticism from consumers over this new and potentially risky technology applied to human food. Although any solid evidence suggesting that the genetically engineered food poses any danger to health is lacking, consumers are nervous about possible unknown and unforeseen side effects[1]. The Flavr Savr tomato was soon removed from production and never appeared again. Since then there have been no commercially available genetically modified tomatoes[2].
The latest development surrounding tomatoes is the much talked about benefits of lycopene, the major carotenoid contained in tomatoes that gives it the deep red color. Similar to beta-carotene, lycopene has been said to have huge amounts of anti-oxidant, a molecule which detects cancer-causing free radicals. Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene. Numerous studies have confirmed that people who eat increased amounts of tomatos experience marked reductions in cancer risk. Results from cancer research has persuaded tomato breeders at the University of Florida to produce high lycopene varieties such as L. esculentum's wild relative, L. pimpinellifolium also known as the Currant tomato. It produces small fruits which contain over 40 times more lycopene than any other tomatoes[1].



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The Effect of Different Level of Npk 15:15:15 Fertilizer on the Vegetative Growth and Yield of Tomato (Lycopersicon Esculentum) in Yandev. Area of Benue State a Project Research Work Submitted to Horticulture and

...BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY 1.1 INTRODUCTION Tomato (cycospersicum esculentum) is one the most popular and widely grown vegetable in the world. The precise centre of origin and domestication of the presented cultivated tomato is uncertain purse glove (1968) point to the central and South America precisely at per Ecuadeor area as the region of origin. This view is not different from that of Anyanwu A.C, (1979who also considered tomato as being indigenous to Izeu and Ecuador in South America from where it spread out to other parts of the world. Tindal H.D 1983 investigated that the cultivated tomato originated in the slope of the Andes mountain of South America. The spread of tomato to other parts was more by deliberate introduction then by accidental natural spread. The spinerals are credited with introducing the crop to Europe in very early times (Purselohe, 1968). Ogieuo Erebor (1998) identified 1596 as the precise date of introduction of the crop to Britain the probable date of the spread of tomato to most tropical countries is in the nineteenth century, a period which Tindal H.D. (1983) accept. The spread in Africa is traced to minigrant tredous missionaries and agricultural officers. The botany of tomato; it belongs to family of solanacease genus cycopersicum species esculentum. The varieties of tomato are divided into two, the processing and the solid type. Other varieties and cultivar include cherry tomato uar cevasiforme, poor tomato uar periform, potato leaf var grandifoluim...

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