Although consumers appreciate the genetic diversity among tomato landraces, traditional varieties have been displaced from commercial agriculture. Their cultivation through organic farming in natural parks can contribute to their resurgence. With this aim, we developed a participatory plant breeding (PPB) program in Collserola Natural Park (Barcelona, Spain) to promote the conservation of the Mando landrace and to obtain new varieties adapted to local organic farms. Taking advantage of the natural genetic variation from the variety’s high cross-pollination rate, farmers developed five experimental inbreeds that were tested in a multi-locality trial in 2018.
As a result of the PPB program, cultivation of the original landrace increased from 80 plants in 2011 to more than 2000 plants in 2018, which protected the variety from genetic erosion. Locality was the factor that contributed mostly to agronomic traits (e.g., yield (66% of the phenotypic variance)), while the genotype contributed more to the quality traits (except for soluble solids (37%) and dry matter (38%)). Farmer evaluations were highly correlated with the phenotypic traits recorded by researchers (Pearson coefficient ranging from 0.63–0.83), and led to the same final varietal selection. The superior inbred selected (3.9) is now being cultivated in the area of study.
This paper discusses the efficiency of PPB in guiding the evolution of landraces.