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Vegetable Crop Breeding & Improvement


With increase in human population in Saudi Arabia and consequently increase in demand for vegetable crops especially around cities. Currently, most of vegetable production depends on seed import. This lead to the importance of having solid program that emphasize research on breeding and improvement of vegetable crops while conserving local strains of vegetables. Presently, the unit of breeding and improvement of vegetable crops focuses  on two economically important vegetable crops in Saudi Arabia: tomato and pumpkin.  Research has started in this units aiming at producing genotypes that can tolerate the adverse environmental conditions (high temperature, drought and salinity). We cooperate with international and local center such as the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center in Taiwan.


The overall objective of the unit are to:

·             Evaluate and select parental lines of major vegetable crops for environmental  stresses

·             Produce and evaluate hybrids tolerant to environmental stress conditions while maintaining and maximizing yield with high quality trait

·             Conserve genetic resources of local varieties of vegetable crops

Research Team 

·               Professor A.A. Al-Sadon

·               Dr. S.O. Khalil

·               Dr. M.A.E. Wahb-Allah



The unit of breeding and improvement of vegetable crops make use of facilities provided by the Plant Production Department. These include biotechnology laboratory of the Biotechnology Unit and Center for Excellence in Biotechnology, Department greenhouses, tissue culture laboratory and experimental fields of the Agricultural Research and Experimental Station.  

Research Programs

Tomato Breeding and  Improvement Program

 v  Evaluation and Improvement of Some Tomato Cultivars and their Hybrids Combinations under Different Environmental Stress Conditions in Saudi Arabia

Seed import and environmental Stress conditions such as high temperature for long durations, drought and salinity present major limitations for growth and productivity of tomato cultivars in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, this research focus on producing tomato hybrids suitable for local environment and readily available for farmers and companies 

Research Objectives:

This study is part of a comprehensive breeding program to produce new tomato hybrids tolerant to environmental stress conditions under central region of Saudi Arabia.

The overall objective of this study were (a) to evaluate and select parental lines for heat, salinity and drought  stress tolerance for breeding program, and (b) produce and evaluate hybrids tolerant to environmental stress conditions maintain and maximized yield with high quality trait.

Program Methodology:

This project was planned in three major steps.

(1) Collecting and evaluated parental lines ( locally available imported seeds in the market).

(2)  Production of new hybrid seeds ( by various hybridization processes).

(3) Evaluation of newly produced hybrids by growing them at various locations and seasons. The first step is almost over at this time.    

Project Progress

The project has started four years ago during which the research team have been able to evaluate the response of many cultivars readily available in the market as well as some imported genotypes that are known for their environmental stress tolerance.   Six promising cultivars  have been selected under field conditions and all the possible hybrid combinations have been evaluated as well.  This work resulted in the best two cultivars and their hybrid under local environmental conditions (Alsadon and Wahb-allah, 2007).  Heat tolerance for tomato genotypes has been carried out under laboratory and field conditions.  This work resulted in the classification of genotypes based on heat tolerance (Alsadon et al., 2006) and collecting the starting materials for breeding program.

In addition, salinity tolerance have been evaluated under laboratory and field conditions (Alsadon, et al., 2007 and Mohammed  et al., 2007).


Evaluation and Improvement Local pumpkin Genotypes under Different Environmental Stress Conditions in Saudi Arabia

Local pumpkin is widely grown in many regions of Saudi Arabia.  There are many pumpkin genotypes with different sizes, shapes, colors, taste, maturity season and tolerance to diseases and pests.  This is considered as a valuable starting material for a plant breeder to improve and breed for best ones.

Research Goals

This project was initiated to achieve the following goals:

1-    evaluation of locally grown pumpkin genotypes.

2-    Improvement of local genotypes through selfing with selection for 5-6 generations to obtain inbred lines.

3-    Producing new hybrid through hybridization between selected genotypes.

Research Methodology

1-    Collection of germplasm of local pumpkin from different regions of the Kingdom and growing them to obtain the original population.

2-    Evaluation and selfing with selection for 3-4 generation.

3-    Obtain inbred lines and testing genetic stability.

4-    Hybridization between inbred lines to obtain new hybrids.

5-    Evaluation of newly produced genetic populations in many regions and over many seasons.

Graduate Students










Graduation Date


I.A. Almusa


Prof. A.A. Al-Sadon

Preliminary studies on evaluation and selection of local pumpkin genotypes



A.N. Ahmad


Prof. A.A. Al-Sadon

Evaluation of Salt  Tolerance of Tomato Cultivars using Tissue Culture Techniques



M.A. Al-Motairi


Prof. A.A. Al-Sadon

Study of Genetic Diversity Based on Molecular Markers and its Relationship with Heterosis in Pumpkin Genotypes





Alsadon, A.A., M.A. Wahb-allah and S.O. Khalil.  2006.  In vitro evaluation of heat stress tolerance in some tomato cultivars. J. King Saud Univ., Agric. Sci. 19(1):13-24.


Alsadon, A. A. and M.A. Wahb-allah. 2007.  Yield stability for tomato cultivars and their hybrids under arid conditions.  Acta Hort. 760:249-258.


Mohammed, A.N., A.A. Alsadon, A. R. Alharbi, M.A. Wahb-allah and M. H. Rahman.  2007.  Salinity tolerance of tomato cultivars using in vitro techniques. Acta Hort. 760:259-267.


Alsadon, A. A., M. A. Wahb-allah, and S. O. Khalil. 2007. Evaluation of salinity tolerance of tomato cultivars, breeding lines and their hybrid combinations under greenhouse conditions. Submitted for publication in  Acta Hort (submitted)

Last updated on : January 12, 2023 1:00am