Tomato is an edible fruit belonging to the nightshade family of Solanum lycopersicum. It originated from South American Andesbut its usage as food originated in Mexico before spreading to the other parts of the world. It is grown in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate areas. Ali et., al (2014) support that tomato is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibers. it is also a perfect model for genetic studies, fruit development and ripening process.
Ali et., al (2014) suggest that the presence of good characterised ripening mutants, genetic maps, small genome size, short life cycle and efficient transformation characteristics, made tomato an ideal model for studying viruses, development and fruit ripening process through genetic modification. The major environmental factors that greatly affect the quality of tomato production includes; heat,cold and soil salinity. Chilling, drought and salinity stress have been indicated to be associated in effecting water relations at cellular, tissue, organ and whole plant level thereby leading to physiological, morphological biochemical and molecular changes.
Tomato is used in various ways such as; preparation of dishes, stew, sauces, salads, processed into ketchup, processed into tomato soup and drinks. Botanically, tomato is regarded as a fruit but due to it’s culinary benefits, it is regarded as a vegetable. Moreover, unripe tomatoes can be fried with other vegetables and used to garnish dishes and salsa.Tomatoes are proved to be acidic hence can be easily preserved in home whole, as paste, in pieces, as tomato sauce and can also be preserved by drying under the sun.
Sakthivel & Manigandan (2011) agree that tomato contains lycopene, a very powerful antioxidant in the carotenoid family which protects human beings from free radicals which degenerate many parts of the body. Researchers agree that lycopene is very beneficial in preventing cancer. Presently, tomatoes are highly consumed in the developed countries far more than in the developing countries. It is highly rich in vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, Iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and minerals.
Ali, A., Muzaffar, A., Awan, M.F., Din, S.U., Nasir, I.A., Husnain, T.(2014) Genetically Modified Foods: Engineered tomato with extra advantages, International Journal of Advancements in Life Sciences, 1(3). pp. 140-145.
Sakthivel, S. & Manigandan, V. (2011) Tissue Culture Studies In Tomato (Lycopersicon Esculantum ) From Cotyledonary Leaf Explants, International Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol.2, p.22.