C. Gilbert was born on June 12, 1909 and passed away on November 2, 1992
in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dr. Gilbert was a vegetable breeder, but
in addition, one of the top tomato breeders in the world. His work
involved the use of Mendelian genetic principles, that is conventional
breeding, to develop disease-resistant tomatoes. His success at this
work came from him being both an expert plant pathologist as well as a
He was involved with an elite group of
researchers who possessed similar interests and skills, which organized
in 1951 as the
Dr. Gilbert also taught classes in
vegetable crops and worked with all of the contemporary experts in
vegetable breeding such as Henry Munger
of Cornell University and Tex
Frazier of Oregon State University. Along with his work breeding
disease resistant tomatoes, he also bred varieties of lettuce, beans,
peas, soybeans, cucumbers, and eggplants.
In the search for tomato disease
resistances, one of the most significant varieties resulting from Dr.
Gilbert's program is a selection called 'Hawaii 7996'. He admitted in a
letter dated March, 1978 to H. Laterrot that no publications had been
specifically written for this line, and that he was not fully satisfied
with it because of its flavour due to alkaloid residues in the ripe
fruit. He recommended to using it as a rootstock or as a parent to be
crossed with another parent of good flavour and some bacterial wilt
resistance, for making F1s.
The exact origin and pedigree has been
lost to time but it is an important parent in the pedigree of many
subsequent Tomato Bacterial Wilt (TBW) resistant cultivars. In the 2010
annual report of the Tomato Genetics Cooperative it states, "Breeding
is an art as much as a science, and the exact pedigree of the most
famous bacterial wilt resistant line 'Hawaii 7996' will probably remain
the secret of the breeding genius of the late J. C. Gilbert."
One example for its use is by Florida
State University tomato breeder Jay Scott who used 'Hawaii 7996' to add
TBW resistance to his tomato varieties developed for the Florida tomato
Dr. Gilbert also used 'Hawaii 7996' in his
own breeding program. One commercial introduction is a TBW resistant
variety called 'Kewalo' that is grown in many Pacific islands where
bacterial wilt is prevalent.
Social Security Death Index
STORIES: Special Seed Edition," by Glenn I. Teves, County
Extension Agent, UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources,
Cooperative Extension Service - Molokai, August, 2013.
Tomato Genetics Cooperative, Volume 60, 2010, page 10.
Crops," by James C. Gilbert, Hawaii AES Miscellaneous Publication
180, March, 1982.