Bumblebee pollination is crucial to the production of tomatoes in protected cultivation. Both tomato yield and flavor play important roles in attracting attention from growers and consumers. Compared with yield, much less work has been conducted to investigate whether and how pollination methods affect tomato flavor.
In this study, the effects of bumblebee pollination, vibrator treatment, and plant growth regulator (PGR) treatment on tomato yield and flavor were tested in Gobi Desert greenhouses. Compared with vibrator or PGR treatments, bumblebee pollinated tomatoes had higher and more stable fruit sets, heavier fruit weight, and more seeds. We also found that the seed quantity positively correlated with fruit weight in both bumblebee pollinated and vibrator treated tomatoes, but not in PGR treated tomatoes. Besides enhancing yield, bumblebee pollination improved tomato flavor.
Bumblebee pollinated tomato fruits contained more fructose and glucose but less sucrose, citric acid, and malic acid. Furthermore, the volatile organic compounds of bumblebee pollinated tomato were distinctive with vibrator or PGR treated tomato, and more consumer liking related compounds were identified in bumblebee pollinated tomato. Our findings provide new insights into the contributions of bee pollinators towards improving crop yield and quality, emphasizing the importance of bumblebee for tomato pollination.
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Zhang, Hong & Han, Chao & Breeze, Tom & Li, Mengdan & Mashilingi, Shibonage & Hua, Jun & Zhang, Wenbin & Zhang, Xuebin & Zhang, Shiwen & An, Jiandong. (2022). Bumblebee Pollination Enhances Yield and Flavor of Tomato in Gobi Desert Greenhouses. Agriculture. 12. 795. 10.3390/agriculture12060795.