Mapping Blueberry Genes
ARS plant geneticist Jeannine Rowland and colleagues have produced and made publicly available an online blueberry genomics database, called "BBGD." Blueberry is now a major berry crop with significant nutritional and economic value, and plant breeders strive to create plants that can adapt to a wide range of soils, climates, harvest techniques, and environments.
The researchers are with the Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. To date, they have identified gene sequences and molecular markers of horticultural significance and put that information on the BBGD for marker-assisted breeding and transformation.
Blueberry plants set flowerbuds in the summer and fall that develop into fruit the following summer. But extremely low winter temperatures and early spring frosts can kill those buds, leading to reduced crop yield and losses.
The database provides key information on gene expression related to a cultivar’s ability to acclimate to and survive cold winters—a critical step to good summer yields. The online information on increased gene expression during exposure to cold will help breeders produce blueberry cultivars with enhanced winter hardiness. To access BBGD online, go to http://psi081.ba.ars.usda.gov/bbgd/index.htm.—By Rosalie Marion Bliss, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
Agricultural Reasearch magazine, August 2008 Complete Article