Submitted to: Integrated Biological Systems Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 17, 2004
Publication Date: July 20, 2004
Citation: Kumar, V., Mills, D. J., Anderson, J. D., and Mattoo, A. K. 2004. An alternative agriculture system is defined bhy a distinct expression profile of select gene transcripts and proteins. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 101:10535-10540.
Conventional fresh market vegetable production heavily depends on materials that are synthesized off the farm. These include plastic mulch, nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides. Such farming practices contribute to the unintentional introduction of agrochemicals into non-farm environments. This raises serious environmental concerns for human and animal health. The integration of on-farm biological inputs into vegetable production system is one potential means of reducing the dependence on off-farm inputs. In recent years, alternative agriculture practices have tested cover crops such as hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) as an on-farm biological input that has the potential to reduce soil erosion with lesser reliance on agrochemicals without impacting the yield or quality of the produce. Field-grown, fresh market tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) plants cultivated in hairy vetch mulch display tolerance to disease and have reduced defoliation as compared to plants cultivated in the plastic mulch. We used a molecularapproach to test whether these beneficial attributes are linked to changes in the expression profiles of one or more specific gene products. A large number of antibodies and PCR-derived gene-specific probes were used to quantify the levels of proteins and transcripts implicated in senescence and disease tolerance. The data indicated that vetch-grown tomato plants have increased accumulation of transcripts and proteins that are central to disease suppression and delayed senescence.