Tomato flavor has changed over the course of long-term domestication and intensive breeding.

To understand the genetic control of flavor, we report the meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using 775 tomato accessions and 2,316,117 SNPs from three GWAS panels. We discover 305 significant associations for the contents of sugars, acids, amino acids, and flavor-related volatiles. We demonstrate that fruit citrate and malate contents have been impacted by selection during domestication and improvement, while sugar content has undergone less stringent selection. We suggest that it may be possible to significantly increase volatiles that positively contribute to consumer preferences while reducing unpleasant volatiles, by selection of the relevant allele combinations. Our results provide genetic insights into the influence of human selection on tomato flavor and demonstrate the benefits obtained from meta-analysis.





Figure 4: Combinations of six volatile alleles for the improvement of tomato volatile content. af Manhattan plot for meta-analysis of genome-wide association analysis of geranyl acetone (a), guaiacol (b), hexanal (c), methyl salicylate (d), phenylacetaldehyde (e), and 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one (f) content. g Allele distribution of six volatiles content at positions: chr3: 4,328,514 (geranyl acetone), chr9: 69,299,940 (guaiacol), chr1: 1,083,181 (hexanal), chr9: 69,293,875 (methyl salicylate), chr4: 55,635,636 (phenylacetaldehyde), and chr3: 3,212,583 (6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one) in cerasiforme, heir_trans, heir_mod, and pimpinellifolium tomato accessions. hiMean (±SE, standard error) content of total content of the four positive volatiles (geranyl acetone, hexanal, phenylacetaldehyde and 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one) (h) and two unpleasant volatiles (lower panel, guaiacol and methyl salicylate) (i) at different allele combinations in cerasiforme, heir_trans, heir_mod and pimpinellifolium tomato accessions. Source data of Fig. 4g–i are provided in a Source Data file