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J Exp Bot. 2009;60(12):3379-86. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erp177. Epub 2009 Jun 10.

Use of network analysis to capture key traits affecting tomato organoleptic quality.

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  • 1Department of Soil, Plant and Environmental and Animal Production Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Via Universit√† 100, 80055 Portici (NA), Italy.


The long-term objective of tomato breeders is to identify metabolites that contribute to defining the target flavour and to design strategies to enhance it. This paper reports the results of network analysis, based on metabolic phenotypic and sensory data, to highlight important relationships among such traits. This tool allowed a reduction in data set complexity, building a network consisting of 35 nodes and 74 links corresponding to the 74 significant (positive or negative) correlations among the variables studied. A number of links among traits contributing to fruit organoleptic quality and to the perception of sensory attributes were identified. Modular partitioning of the characteristics involved in fruit organoleptic perception captured the essential fruit parameters that regulate interactions among different class traits. The main feature of the network was the presence of three nodes interconnected among themselves (dry matter, pH, and degrees Brix) and with other traits, and nodes with widely different linkage degrees. Identification of strong associations between some metabolic and sensory traits, such as citric acid with tomato smell, glycine with tomato smell, and granulosity with dry matter, suggests a basis for more targeted investigations in the future.

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