Isolation and Characterization of Fungi Associated with Spoiled Tomatoes

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1.1    Background to the study

Evidently, food spoilage refers to various changes in which the food becomes less palatable or even toxic to consumers these changes may be accompanied by alterations in taste, smell, appearance or texture.

Tomato is a major vegetable crop that has achieved tremendous popularity over the last century. However, tomato plants can grow up to 10 feet tall, but most species are less than three feet tall on average (Yoltao 1985). In addition, tomato plants are perennial, have a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants (Sravanthi and Gangadhar, 2015).


Indeed, fruit of tomato are diverse in size and shape, ranging from small and round to large and variable shapes (Brewer et al., 2006). Thus, the size of tomato varies depending on the plant species. Cherry tomato plants produce small, cherry-sized tomatoes (Yoltao, 1985).

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) belongs to the family solanaceae and it is an annual sub-tropical fruit vegetable crop. The Lycopersicon esculentum M. (tomato) is an important vegetable crop across the world, originated in West South America (Kimura and Sinha, 2008). The fruits of tomato are popular throughout the world and are used in all kind of stews, soups and also eaten raw in salads.

Without a doubt, ripe tomato fruits have high nutritive values, being a good source of vitamin A, B, C and minerals (Elsayed and Edrees, 2014).


The crop is grown either on open field or under greenhouse technology. Open field production account for 95 % while greenhouse technology accounts for 5 % of the total tomato production (Seminis, 2007). Nigeria is among the Africa’s leading producer of tomato. Hence, Nigeria is ranked 6th in Africa with a total production of 397,007 tones (Usam, 2012).

However, the nutritional value of tomato makes it a widely accepted vegetable by consumers. Fruits are rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, niacin, iron, folate. Vitamin A, B6, Vitamin E, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, iron and carbohydrates (Wamache, 2005). Furthermore, the fruit has medicinal value as a gentle stimulant for kidneys, and washing off toxins that contaminate the body systems. Therefore, it improves the status of dietary anti-oxidants (lycopene, ascorbic acid and phenols) in diet (George et al., 2004).


Moreover, fungi affecting Tomatoes (Lycopersicum esculentum) includes Fusarium oxyspanium, Fusarium stolonifer, Aspergillus niger and Rhizopus stolonifer. Result on the percentage incidence and rot shows that Rhizopus stolonifer caused the greatest rot on tomato fruit. (Chuku, Ogbonna, Onue, 2012).


1.2          Statement of the Problem

Tomatoes are an attractive cash crop for small scale farmers and provide potential source of employment to many Nigerians. Despite the human need of tomato, damage as a result of spoilage caused by micro-organisms has been of serious concern. In fact microbial decay is one of the main factors that determine losses and compromises the quality of the produce.

Both the biological and physical damages during the harvest and transportation phases. Coupled with large amount of water and soft endocarp makes tomatoes more susceptible to spoilage by fungi.


In order to provide literature on this area, few studies on fungi associated with tomato spoilage are available in Nigeria. This then motivated the researcher to investigate into Isolation and Characterization of Fungi Associated with Spoiled Tomatoes.

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