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Greetings from Syracuse NY

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    Greetings from Syracuse NY

    Hi everyone!

    First off, I'm happy to be part of this group and I'm really glad I came across Dan Follett's work while browsing information on open source seed. For some background, I have a bachelors in Plant Science and Food Science, and a PhD in Plant Biology where I studied tomato breeding and genetics. Specifically, I worked on mapping new late blight disease resistance genes from wild tomatoes and breeding them into a commercial line. I'm currently on a detour researching genetics in nematodes, but I plan on returning to plant breeding as a career in the near future.

    In the meantime, I'm still breeding tomatoes as a hobby; I'm doing it all in the corner of a small room in our apartment under fluorescent lights. I grow tomatoes there in both soil and hydroponically with great success, including large indeterminates, so let me know if you're interested in giving indoor tomato growing a try! Last year I grew two tomato plants hydroponically out of a 5-gallon bucket but the plants quickly outgrew the space and were not very productive as they spread away from the lights. My experiences growing tomatoes indoors are a big reason why I joined this group; soon I'll be growing more compact plants from seeds that Dan sent me for generation advancement.

    Mainly because of the space, one of my breeding projects is for micro tomatoes. I'm working on an improved MicroTom tomato (which is a nice plant but the tomatoes are really bland) that grows black cherry tomatoes, which are my favorite for snacking. Flavor is the hardest trait to capture because of its complexity but I'm now a few generations in and making some good progress. I hope to have something within the next couple of years.

    Finally, if anyone is in the Syracuse (central NY) area, I offer various food- and plant-related workshops for community groups, including one entirely on tomatoes! Let me know if you're part of a group and are interested in having me come and speak.

    Let me know if you want to chat, I love talking tomatoes and all things food and gardening!

    Matt Sullenberger

    #2
    Welcome to the forums Matt! We have a few other people on board with a science background - which I am just thrilled to see.

    My name is Sean, and I am helping Dan organize all the fun

    Have you considered growing any dwarf tomatoes? They might get you a larger tomato under lights, but stay within available vertical space. I too tried an indeterminate, in a grow tent, under LEDs, hydroponically. Aside from the fact that we're on well water, and maintaining the reservoir was a pain, the tomato plant grew out of control and quickly exceeded the vertical space I had available. Perhaps I could have pruned to one stem and tied it down enough to make it grow in a circular pattern, but I didn't think of that then!

    I will likely be PM'ing you about plant science in general, as I work to educate myself better there. Thanks for joining up and for the work you are doing!

    On a side note - we have a ton of crosses to explore, and are always looking for people to help lead those cross lines. If that is something you might be interested in, please let us know!

    Comment


    • DrTomato
      DrTomato
      Junior Member
      DrTomato commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Sean, thanks for the information! I actually found this group through Dan while searching online for dwarf varieties to grow indoors because, obviously, indeterminates are hard to control inside. He sent me a couple seed lines a few months ago that I'll finally be starting in the next few days. My space is pretty limited and I have my own double dwarf project in progress (plus now I'm about to start seeds for the summer garden), so I'm limited to projects that don't require growing large populations; the seeds I got from Dan are near the end stages and I'm mostly just helping to stabilize the lines. Hopefully in the future I can do more with the bigger projects but I'm happy to contribute whenever I can! And, of course, always happy to answer questions.

      I'm looking forward to working with all of you!

    #3
    Gosh Matt-impressive tomato background! Welcome here-it's a nice group seeking micro treasure. I look forward to learning from you!
    Heide

    Comment


    • DrTomato
      DrTomato
      Junior Member
      DrTomato commented
      Editing a comment
      Happy to meet other members! It's exciting to see so many people involved with this. I've found the perfect community!

    #4
    Originally posted by DrTomato View Post
    In the meantime, I'm still breeding tomatoes as a hobby; I'm doing it all in the corner of a small room in our apartment under fluorescent lights. I grow tomatoes there in both soil and hydroponically with great success, including large indeterminates, so let me know if you're interested in giving indoor tomato growing a try!
    Matt Sullenberger
    I've been trying to growing indoors for about 5 years now. I'm getting better at it but still don't have it down fully. Nearly everything I've saved seed fand sent out from except F1 plants has been grown indoors. I'd love to pick your brain and share information on lights, watering, soil (or growing medium) and especially, fertilizing. I'm still learning my way around this forum myself. We ought to start threads on those different topics and get other folks involved.

    Originally posted by DrTomato View Post
    I have a bachelors in Plant Science and Food Science, and a PhD in Plant Biology where I studied tomato breeding and genetics.
    Matt Sullenberger
    We have a lot of smart people in this group, but it is good to know we have someone educated in what we are trying to do as well. Let me know when you are ready to conduct a scientific experiment or two. I think we have the genesis of one or two that could generate information not currently known in breeding world.
    dfollett
    Super Moderator
    Last edited by dfollett; 02-29-2020, 07:15 AM.

    Comment


    • DrTomato
      DrTomato
      Junior Member
      DrTomato commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Dan! I just noticed this response to my post... I think I need to update my settings to receive notifications.

      In regards to using lights, I use 4ft fluorescent fixtures, 2-3 fixtures side-by-side, and each fixture holding a bulb in the red spectrum and the blue spectrum. Red promotes flowering and is sold as "warm red" with a "color temperature" as low as you can find, typically around 3,500K. Blue promotes seedling and vegetative growth and is sold as "cool white"; this should be as high as you can find, usually 6,500K. T12 bulbs (larger) are cheaper but emit less light, and T8 (smaller) are more expensive but emit more light, are more energy efficient, and last longer. Higher wattage will use more energy but emits more light. I don't use anything below 32W.

      LED lighting is popular now and people say they work better than fluorescent. The issue is that it's not white light and can be aesthetically off-putting if it's in a living space. We grow our plants in the same room as my wife's home work space, and she likes having the fluorescent lighting especially during the long winters and cloudy days in central NY.

      You should keep the plants as close as possible to the lights. I usually give them at least 3-6" in case I ignore them for a few days and they grow into the lights. This isn't necessarily dangerous but it can dry/kill the leaves if they're in direct contact with the bulbs for too long. The more lights you have, the further away the plants can be. A lot of mine have been a foot away with no issues.

      When grown in pots, I use a pretty standard potting mix that I get from a greenhouse supply store and you can probably find at any garden center. When the plants start getting root bound, I feed with a general vegetable fertilizer most of the time. To be honest I'm inconsistent with fertilizing and usually forget, so sometimes I don't get to it until they plants start showing some deficiency symptoms. I water when the soil surface is dry but before the plants wilt. Avoid bringing in anything from the outside because I regularly have pest issues that are tough to eliminate once you have them.

      For hydroponics, I start everything in soil until the roots are at least 6-8 inches (or ~1+ months old for tomatoes). I wash all the soil from the root system and transfer the plants to a mesh basket filled with expanded clay pellets for support. My current setup is a 5 gallon bucket with a large basket that I bought from a hydroponics store and is made to fit into buckets. It's rigged with a water pump for a fish tank to circulate water up to the base of the plant where it can drip back down into the bucket, which I fill with 2 gallons at a time. For nutrients, I use the FloraSeries liquid fertilizer from General Hydroponics. They have FloraMicro, FloraGro, and FloraBloom that you mix in different ratios based on a chart on the back of the bottles depending on what type of growth you want. These seem to be the most reliable and economical for home hydroponics. I've been using them for years with great results growing greens, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions.

    • DrTomato
      DrTomato
      Junior Member
      DrTomato commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh also, I'm interested in hearing what experiments you have in mind. If I have the space, I may be able to get involved.

    #5
    Hello Matt! Im very interested in the new tomato genetics and In your tomato workshop! If you haven’t tried dwarf tomatoes inside you definitely need to explore it! Tennessee suites dwarf is one of my favorites! I’m so excited about this group and am looking forward to learning a ton and asking some great scientific questions!

    Comment


    • DrTomato
      DrTomato
      Junior Member
      DrTomato commented
      Editing a comment
      I do like growing dwarf tomatoes and I'm hoping to have more inside soon. I've had some pest issues and they're finally almost cleared up, so I'm ready to plant again!

    #6
    Nice! Just out of curiosity, what were your pest issues?

    Comment


    • DrTomato
      DrTomato
      Junior Member
      DrTomato commented
      Editing a comment
      I had aphids, spider mites, and thrips... the usual three. They came in over the summer from some random plants I would occasionally bring inside and root (I'm pretty sure it was the mint that brought the bugs every time.) Luckily the aphids stayed in one room of the apartment and I made sure not to move plants back and forth. I finally eliminated those by using a homemade soap spray and by picking them off individually at the end. The thrips are finally gone too as of a week ago; I was also using soap and picking them individually (using tweezers with a dab of goo from fly paper), but the larvae and eggs are in the soil, and new eggs were probably being laid before the adults showed up on the leaves. I applied GoGnats as a soil drench several times in the past week and haven't seen any more, so I think that worked! I used the same thing to get rid of fungus gnats that were a problem off and on for a year and that's the only thing that worked. The spider mites were the real problem for the tomatoes and definitely killed a bunch of plants by the end, so I didn't have as many plants to evaluate as I had hoped, but it was enough. There's nothing to really do about them when they're that bad except toss the plants, so that's why I wanted to keep the area cleared out for a few weeks before starting things again.

    #7
    I think there are several potential experiments we could do to try to determine the specific genes necessary to keep a tomato plant under 12”.
    However, there are two specific experiments I had in mind when I mentioned it. They both are related to the genetics controlling leaf type.
    • The first one has to do with the dominant/recessive relationship between Regular Leaf, Potato Leaf and Carrot Leaf.
      • I have CL crosses from two different directions.
        • One (45X) is from a cross of a RL micro with Silvery Fir Tree. That is the only tomato I am aware of that is CL
        • The second line (33X) is a line of Carrot Leaf micros that popped out in the F2 from a cross between a Regular Leaf micro and an unnamed F3 Dwarf Project plant that had F3 or F4 Dwarf Project ancestors two generations back.
      • I made a cross (105X) with a micro CL F5 of 33X and a PL F4 of a (Brandywine X Ananas Noire) indeterminate.
        • The F1 was RL
        • Initially I didn’t pay much attention to leaf type as I went through the micro hunt/grow process.
        • In a batch of F3 seed from a F2 CL micro, I noticed a few PL plants. I had thought that once a CL showed it was homozygous for the leaf type and would stay true to type. That wasn’t the case here. So
        • I tried an experiment with F1, F2 & F3 seed from that cross to try to determine the dominant/recessive relationship between RL, C\PL & CL leaf types. I had these results:
          • F1 – 12 plants – all RL
          • F2 – 546 plants
            • 75.1% Indeterminate – of those:
              • 63.2% RL
              • 17.8% CL
              • 19.0% PL
            • 24.9% Dwarf/Micro – of those:
              • 61.8% RL
              • 25.0% CL
              • 13.2% PL
          • F3 from CL micro – 75 plants – of those:
            • 77.3% CL
            • 22.7% PL
          • F3 from PL micro – 8 plants (not much seed & poor germination – of those – 100% PL
      • That tells me the RL is dominant to PL (already known) and RL is dominant to CL (also known)
      • It also tells me CL is apparently dominant to PL. From my conversations with a professional breeder, he said that is something he could not find documented in any literature.
    • A second observation that surprised me a bit is the 75%-25% split between indeterminate and dwarf/micro.
      • That is the same split that manifests with a Dwarf X Indeterminate cross.
      • I expected more smaller plants with a Micro X Indeterminate cross.
        • I wasn’t too scientific in the separation. I counted what I thought was indeterminate as I culled. Everything else was in the Dwarf/Micro count. I did not try to separate dwarf from micro.
        • If there are two or more genes that create the micro, shouldn’t there be those that have each one and those that have both?
          • Shouldn’t those that have the other gene(s) but not the dwarf gene be in addition to the 25% dwarfs?
          • There may be something I'm missing here.
    • The other experiment has to do with a possible linkage between CL and the non-dwarf genes that make a plant micro.
      • In one line I have noticed that after micro hunting and culling all but the shortest F2s from a micro CL X indeterminate RL cross, the majority of micros were CL, instead of the expected 25%. I didn’t keep track of the RL:CL ratio in the taller ones that I culled.
      • I mentioned that observation to a different grower (actually, a professional breeder) who was growing out F2s from the same cross, and he observed the same thing.

    Comment


    • DrTomato
      DrTomato
      Junior Member
      DrTomato commented
      Editing a comment
      This is great, I really miss reading things like this! Thanks for sharing the data along with the rest of the information, it's so cool to see genetics in action.

      That's so interesting about the CL phenotype! A lot of the wild S. pimpinellifolium I worked with had that and it's so cool. I grow a variety of S. cheesmaniae that is somewhat CL, but not as much as Silvery Fir Tree; that's not one I've grown.

      There is probably some linkage involved, and I know a number of different genes contribute to the dwarfs. Do you happen to know specifically which ones are in your lines? I dug into the literature a couple years ago and a few potentials in MicroTom are dwarf (d d), double dwarf (dd dd), and miniature (mnt mnt), and then of course self pruning (sp sp) for determinate. Besides growth habit, I'm pretty sure the dwarfing genes are all/mostly related to hormones/internodes? None of this stuff is what I looked at for my research so I've had to look it all up, you might know more about that.

    #8
    Wow Dan-that CL is apparently dominant to PL is pretty interesting. Also that leaf type isn't completely fixed in the first three generations. I thought once you got CL you would continue to get CL. In some that I have been growing I sometimes have an issue distinguishing PL from RL because the leaves never seem truly RL to me. Have you noticed this?

    Comment


      #9
      Yes I have. It seems to me there is a continuum of leaf type from the absolutely smooth truly PL through the very fine CL, rather than three distinct leaf types. Some seem to be very PLish RL and some very CLish RL. Perhaps there are just a few true PL, a few true CL and a very wide range of RL.

      However, the PLs that showed up in the F3 from the CL F2 were very PL - very smooth leaf sides. There was no question with those - either the CL or the PL.

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