Tomato is a member of the nightshade family, Solanaceae, which includes a variety of crop plants such as chilli pepper and potato. Like the potato, the tomato originated in the Andean region of South America, was grown by Aztecs in Mesoamerica, and spread to Europe by early Spanish explorers. Today, hundreds of varieties are grown throughout the world, with the largest producers being China and the United States. The reference genome for tomato is that of cultivar Heinz 1706.
The genome sequences of tomato and related species, such as Solanum pimpinellifolium, are essential resources to understand the domestication history of the tomato and for breeding new cultivars resistant to diseases such as blight. In addition to its value as a food, the tomato has served as an important model system for the study of fruit ripening, plant-pathogen interactions, and molecular genetic mapping.