Taxonomic Placement

Traditionally, wild and cultivated tomatoes have been considered within the genus Lycopersicon in the Solanaceae family, mainly based on the typical androceum where the anthers are connivent laterally to form a flask-shaped cone with an elongated sterile tip at the apex. However, there has been considerable flux in the taxonomy of tomatoes in the last ~450 years.

Early European botanists recognized the close relationship of tomatoes with the genus Solanum, and commonly referred to them as S. pomiferum (Luck-will 1943b). Tournefort (1694) was the first to name cultivated tomatoes as Lycopersicon ("wolf peach" in Greek). Tournefort placed forms with large multiloc-ular fruit in Lycopersicon, but included forms with bilocular fruit in Solanum. In Species Plantarum, Linnaeus (Linnaeus 1753) began to consistently use Latin binomials to name species; he included tomatoes in the genus Solanum and described S. lycopersicum (the cultivated tomato) and S. peruvianum. One year later, in the 4th edition of The Gardener's Dictionary, Miller (1754) followed Tournefort and formally described the genus Lycopersicon. Later, Miller (1768) began to use Linnaeus' binomial system and published descriptions under Lycopersicon for several species, among them were three tomato species L. esculentum, L. pe-ruvianum, L. pimpinellifolium, and also potatoes as L. tuberosum ("Lycopersicon radice tuberose, esculen-tum"). He supported the inclusion of potatoes based on the argument that "This Plant was always ranged in the Genus of Solanum, or Nightshade, and is now brought under that title by Dr. Linnaeus; but as Lycop-ersicon has now been established as a distinct Genus, on account of the Fruit being divided into several Cells, by intermediate Partitions, and as the Fruit of this Plant [the potato] exactly agrees with the Characters of the other species of this Genus, I have inserted it here." In the posthumously published edition of The Gardener's and Botanist's Dictionary (Miller 1807) the editor, Thomas Martyn, followed Linnaeus criterion and included Lycopersicon back into Solanum. Nevertheless, following Miller's early circumscription, tomatoes have been traditionally recognized under Lycopersicon by the majority of taxonomists.

Today, the treatment of tomatoes in the genus Solanum has gained wide acceptance supported by evidences from phylogenetic studies of the Solanaceae family based on molecular and morphological characters. These phylogenetic results have unambiguously shown tomatoes to be deeply nested within Solanum (Spooner et al. 1993, 2005; Bohs and Olmstead 1997; Olmstead and Palmer 1997; Olmstead et al. 1999; Peralta and Spooner 2001; Bohs 2005).

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