Trichomes, the hairlike protuberances in plants, have been well known to act as the first line of defense against herbivores, and abiotic stresses, along with other structural defenses such as spines, thorns, and waxes. We previously reported the tremendous variation in trichome traits among different wild and cultivated Solanum species and demonstrated that trichomes types and density are traditionally miscalculated and often misnamed. However, intraspecific variation in trichome traits is poorly understood, although this has implications for stress tolerance and resistance breeding programs in economically important crop species and can also mediate ecological interactions at multiple trophic levels in their wild congeners. In this study, using tomato as a model, we characterized the trichomes from 10 commonly grown varieties using a minimal sample prep desktop scanning electron microscopy, and followed up with estimating their dimensions across the varieties and trichome types. We hypothesized that although trichome number may vary, the varieties will have similar trichome types, based on current literature. Our results show that there is significant variation for trichome number as well as dimensions of trichome types among these varieties. Furthermore, when we separately analyzed the number and dimensions of commonly found glandular and non-glandular trichomes, the results were consistent with broad assessment of trichomes, showing consistent variation among varieties, suggesting that trichome studies should not be limited to basic classification into glandular and non-glandular, and should accommodate the sub-types and their dimensions.
Kaur, S., Khanal, N., Dearth, R. et al. Morphological characterization of intraspecific variation for trichome traits in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Bot Stud 64, 7 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40529-023-00370-3