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Why eggplant? 

Eggplants are an Old World crop, valued for their taste as well as antioxidant and micronutrient contents. Three cultivated species are known: the Gboma eggplant (Solanum macrocarpon L.), the scarlet eggplant (S. aethiopicum L.) and the brinjal eggplant (S. melongena L.). Today, S. melongena is the most important cultivated eggplant, widely grown in South Europe and Asia. Gboma eggplant and scarlet eggplant are widely grown in tropical Africa, South America and the Caribbean.

What we achieved


  • 438 seed samples of 33 species collected in 12 countries: Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Uganda and Vietnam.
  • Collectors from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization collected four wild relatives of eggplant that had previously not been conserved in any genebank anywhere in the world.

Pre-breeding and evaluation

  • The project developed 87 second-generation backcrosses derived from six different wild eggplant species; 34 third-generation backcrosses with S. elaeagnifolium; 33 fourth-generation crosses with S. insanum and 31 fourth-generation backcrosses with S. dasyphyllum. Over 95% of the genome of the donor wild relative is represented in these advanced lines. These represent elite genetic material that can be used in eggplant breeding programs.
  • In addition, 19 interspecific hybrids were generated and are available for further backcrossing.
  • Embryo-rescue techniques were used to overcome crossing barriers between the different species.
  • Wild species, interspecific hybrids and advanced backcross lines were agronomically characterized and screened for resistance against important pests and diseases and abiotic stresses.
  • Seed samples were identified that were resistant to bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum), southern blight (Sclerotium rolfsii), spider mite and whitefly and tolerant of drought.
  • Screening of 54 pre-breeding materials—17 crop wild relatives, four cultivated accessions and 33 introgressed lines—against nematodes identified two accessions (one S. anguivi and one S. sisymbriifolium) that were highly tolerant to nematodes.
  • A protocol was developed for obtaining doubled haploids from interspecific hybrids and pre-breeding populations. This in effect provides a short cut in producing plants with traits of interest from such crosses and speeds their incorporation in breeding programs.
  • Five interspecific hybrid rootstocks showed high potential for tomato cultivation, with one hybrid between S. melongena and S. insanum giving a much higher yield than the control.
  • More than 200 seed samples have been delivered through the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) to stakeholders for their evaluation.

Project partners


  • Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, Quito, Ecuador
  • Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute, Accra, Ghana
  • Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Agrícolas, Villa Nueva, Guatemala
  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • National Agriculture Genetic Resources Center, Khumaltar, Nepal
  • National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Plant Genetic Resources Program, Bio-Resources Conservation Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Conservation and Research Centre, Wad Medani, Sudan
  • Plant Genetic Resources Centre, Entebbe, Uganda
  • Plant Resources Center, Hanoi, Vietnam

Pre-breeding and evaluation 

Lead Institute: Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain (pre-breeding and evaluation); World Vegetable Center, Tainan, Taiwan (evaluation)


  • Laboratory of Genetics, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
  • Horticulture Department, University of Kafrelsheikh, Kafr El-Sheikh, Egypt
  • Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Eggplant key collections, materials and data

Eggplant collections

  • The largest eggplant collection is conserved at the World Vegetable Center, Tainan, Taiwan.
  • Of the 438 seed samples of eggplant wild relatives collected, some 270 samples are conserved in the Millennium Seed Bank (December 2021).
  • The Genesys PGR database also includes information about eggplant accessions in genebanks worldwide

Pre-breeding materials 

  • 185 pre-breeding lines derived from wild species are conserved in the Universitat Politècnica de València Genebank.


Eggplant stories

Crop Trust stories
Partner stories
Relevant publication
  • Fita, A., Fioruci, F., Plazas, M., Rodríguez−Burruezo, A., Prohens, J. 2015. Drought tolerance among accessions of eggplant and related species. Bulletin of the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca: Horticulture 72(2): 461–462.
  • Kaushik, P., Prohens, J., Vilanova, S., Gramazio, P., Plazas, M. 2016. Phenotyping of eggplant wild relatives and interspecific hybrids with conventional and phenomic descriptors provide insight for their potential utilization in breeding. Frontiers in Plant Science 7: 677.
  • Kouassi, B., Prohens, J., Gramazio, P., Kouassi, A.B., Vilanova, S., Galán-Ávila, A., Herraiz, F.J., Kouassi, A., Seguí-Simarro, J.M., Plazas, M. 2016. Development of backcross generations and new interspecific hybrid combinations for introgression breeding in eggplant (Solanum melongena). Scientia Horticulturae 213: 199−207.
  • Acquadro, A., Barchi, L., Gramazio, P., Portis, E., Vilanova, S., Comino, C., Plazas, M., Prohens, J., Lanteri, S. 2017. Coding SNPs analysis highlights genetic relationships and evolution pattern in eggplant complexes. PLoS One 12: 7.
  • Gramazio, P., Prohens, J., Borràs, D., Plazas, M., Herraiz, F.J., Vilanova, S. 2017. Comparison of transcriptome−derived simple sequence repeat (SSR) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers for genetic fingerprinting, diversity evaluation, and establishment of relationships in eggplants. Euphytica 213: 264.
  • Gramazio, P., Prohens, J., Plazas, M., Mangino, G., Herraiz, F.J., Vilanova, S. 2017. Development and genetic characterization of advanced backcross materials and an introgression line population of Solanum incanum in a S. melongena background. Frontiers in Plant Science 8: 1477.
  • Kaushik, P., Gramazio, P., Vilanova, S., Raigón, M.D., Prohens, J., Plazas, M. 2017. Phenolics content, fruit flesh colour and browning in cultivated eggplant, wild relatives and interspecific hybrids and implications for fruit quality breeding. Food Research International 102: 392−401.
  • Prohens, J., Gramazio, P., Plazas, M., Dempewolf, H., Kilian, B., Díez, M.J., Fita, A., Herraiz, F.J., Rodríguez-Burruezo, A., Soler, S., Knapp, S., Vilanova, S. 2017. Introgressiomics: a new approach for using crop wild relatives in breeding for adaptation to climate change. Euphytica 213: 158.
  • Ranil, R.G.H., Prohens, J., Aubriot, X., Niran, H. M. L., Plazas, M., Fonseka, R.M., Vilanova, S., Fonseka, H.H., Gramazio, P., Knapp, S. 2017. Solanum insanum L. (subgenus Leptostemonum Bitter, Solanaceae), the neglected wild progenitor of eggplant (S. melongena L.): a review of taxonomy, characteristics and uses aimed at its enhancement for improved eggplant breeding. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 65(7): 1707–1722.
  • Taher, D., Solberg, S.Ø., Prohens, J., Yu-yu Chou, Rakha, M., Tien-hor Wu. 2017. World Vegetable Center eggplant collection: origin, composition, seed dissemination and utilization in breeding. Frontiers in Plant Science 8: 1484.
  • Plazas, M., Brenes, M., Prohens, J., López-Serrano, L., Calatayud, A., Vicente, O., Boscaiu, M., Fita, A. 2018. Respuesta fotosintética a la salinidad de la berenjena y de la especie silvestre relacionada Solanum torvum. Actas de Horticultura 80: 156–158.
  • Boateng, S.K., Aboagye, L.M., Egbadzor, K.F., Darko, R.K., Ameka, G.K., Ekpe, P., Kanton, R., Dogbe, W., Saaka-Buah, S. 2019. Collecting of crop wild relatives and minor crops in Ghana. Research in Agricultural & Veterinary Sciences 3(2): 89–95.
  • García-Fortea, E., Gramazio, P., Vilanova, S., Fita, A., Mangino, G., Villanueva, G., Arrones, A., Knapp, S., Prohens, J., Plazas, M. 2019. First successful backcrossing towards eggplant (Solanum melongena) of a New World species, the silverleaf nightshade (S. elaeagnifolium), and characterization of interspecific hybrids and backcrosses. Scientia Horticulturae 246: 563–573.
  • Kouassi, K.B.A., Kouassi, A.B., Prohens, J., N’Gbesso, M.F.P., Akanvou, L., N’Guetta, A.S.P., N’Zi, J.C., Kouassi, A. 2019. Evaluation of agro-morphologic diversity of some accessions of eggplant (Solanum melongena), some wild and cultivated relatives and their interspecific hybrid progenies. International Journal of Advanced Research 6(1): 10–19.
  • Kouassi, A.B., Kouassi, K.B.A., Alla N.O., Kouassi, A., N’guetta, A.S.-P. 2019. Phenotypic and genotypic variability, heritability and correlation estimates for agro-morphological characteristics of eggplant (Solanum melongena) in Côte d’Ivoire. International Journal of Current Research in Biosciences and Plant Biology 6(9): 15-23.
  • Kouassi, A.B., Kouassi, K.B.A., Kouadio, K.A., Tiecoura, K., Kouassi, A., Prohens, J.T., N’guetta, A.S.-P. 2019. Proline content in leaves of eggplant, Solanum melongena: Analysis of genetic determinism and correlation with agro-morphological traits. Scholars Academic Journal of Biosciences 7(9): 361–367.
  • Namisy, A., Chen, J.R., Prohens, J., Metwally, E., Elmahrouk, M., Rakha, M. 2019. Screening cultivated eggplant and wild relatives for resistance to bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum). Agriculture 9(7): 157.
  • Plazas, M., Nguyen, H.T., González-Orenga, S., Fita, A., Vicente, O., Prohens, J., Boscaiu, M. 2019. Comparative analysis of the responses to water stress in eggplant (Solanum melongena) cultivars. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 143: 72-82.
  • Plazas-Avila, M de la O., Prohens, J., Gramazio, P., García-Fortea, E., Villanueva, G., Lerma, M.D., Vilanova, S. 2019. Born to be –introgressed with a– wild (eggplant). Poster. Plant and Animal Genome Conference XXVII, January 12–16, 2019, San Diego, California, USA.
  • Srinivasan R., Rakha M. 2019. Resistance screening techniques for major insect and mite pests in vegetable crops. In: Kumar Chakravarthy A., Selvanarayanan V. (eds). Experimental techniques in host-plant resistance. Singapore: Springer.
  • Brenes, M., Pérez, J., González-Orenga, S., Solana, A., Boscaiu, M., Prohens, J., Plazas, M., Fita, A., Vicente, O. 2020. Comparative studies on the physiological and biochemical responses to salt stress of eggplant (Solanum melongena) and its rootstock S. torvum. Agriculture 10: 328.
  • Brenes, M., Solana, A., Boscaiu, M., Fita, A., Vicente, O., Calatayud, Á., Prohens, J., Plazas, M. 2020. Physiological and biochemical responses to salt stress in cultivated eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) and in S. insanum L., a close wild relative. Agronomy 10: 651.
  • Mangino, G., Plazas, M., Vilanova, S., Prohens, J., Gramazio, P. 2020. Performance of a set of eggplant (Solanum melongena) lines with introgressions from its wild relative S. incanum under open field and screenhouse conditions and detection of QTLs. Agronomy 10: 467.
  • Fonseka, R.M., Fonseka, H.H.D., Abhyapala K.M.R.D. 2020. Crop wild relatives: an underutilized genetic resource for improving agricultural productivity and food security. In: De Silva R.P., Pushpakumara G., Prasada P., Weerahewa J. (eds) Agricultural research for sustainable food systems in Sri Lanka. Singapore: Springer.
  • García-Fortea, E., García-Pérez, A., Gimeno-Páez, E., Sánchez-Gimeno, A., Vilanova, S., Prohens, J., Pastor-Calle, D. 2020. A deep learning-based system (microscan) for the identification of pollen development stages and its application to obtaining doubled haploid lines in eggplant. Biology 9: 272.
  • Plazas, M., Gramazio, P., Vilanova, S., Kouassi, A.B., Fonseka, R.M., Rakha, M., García-Fortea, E., Mangino, G., Kouassi, K.B.A., Fonseka, H., Taher, D., Kouassi, A., Villanueva, G., Arrones, A., Alonso, A., Prohens, J. 2020. Introgression breeding from crop wild relatives in eggplant landraces for adaptation to climate change. Crop Wild Relative 12: 32–36.
  • Rakha, M., Namisy, A., Chen, J.-R., El-Mahrouk, M.E., Metwally, E., Taha, N., Prohens, J., Plazas, M., Taher, D. 2020. Development of interspecific hybrids between a cultivated eggplant resistant to bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum) and eggplant wild relatives for the development of rootstocks. Plants 9(10): 1405.
  • Taher, D., Ramasamy, S., Prohens, J., Rakha, M. 2020. Screening cultivated eggplant and wild relatives for resistance to sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) and to two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae). Euphytica 216: 157.
  • Kouassi, A.B., Kouassi, K.B.A., Sylla, Z., Plazas, M., Fonseka, R.M., Kouassi, A., Fonseka, H., N'guetta, A.S.-P., Prohens, J. 2021. Genetic parameters of drought tolerance for agromorphological traits in eggplant, wild relatives, and interspecific hybrids. Crop Science: 61: 55–68.
  • Mangino, G., Vilanova, S., Plazas, M., Prohens, J., Gramazio, P. 2021. Fruit shape morphometric analysis and QTL detection in a set of eggplant introgression lines. Scientia Horticulturae 282: 110006.
  • Raubach, S., Kilian, B., Dreher, K., Amri, A., Bassi, F.M., Boukar, O., Cook, D., Cruickshank, A., Fatokun, C., El Haddad, N., Humphries, A., Jordan, D., Kehel, Z., Kumar, S., Labarosa, S.J., Loi Huu Nguyen, Mace, E., McCouch, S., McNally, K., Marshall, D.F., Mikwa, E.O., Milne, I., Odeny, D.A., Plazas, M., Prohens, J., Rieseberg, L.H., Schafleitner, R., Sharma, S., Stephen, G., Huynh Quang Tin, Togola, A., Warschefsky, E., Werner, P., All our CWR Pre-Breeding Partners and Collaborators, Shaw, P.D. 2021. From bits to bites: Advancement of the Germinate platform to support prebreeding informatics for crop wild relatives. Crop Science 61(3): 1538–1566.
  • Plazas, M., González-Orenga, S., Huu Trong Nguyen, Morar, I.M., Fita, A., Boscaiu, M., Prohens, J., Vicente, O. 2022. Growth and antioxidant responses triggered by water stress in wild relatives of eggplant. Scientia Horticulturae 293: 110685.
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