Mapping Berry Fruit Genes
At the Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, ARS plant geneticist Kimberly Lewers is studying the genetic control of repeat fruiting in strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry. Repeat fruiting has been an extremely valuable trait to the strawberry industry in California and areas with similar mild climates. "The goal in these climates, and now also on the East Coast and in the Midwest, is to develop a combination of cultivars and production systems that together produce fruit nearly year round," she says.
Lewers has been analyzing data she received from collaborators at Michigan State University in East Lansing who crossed a June-bearing strawberry cultivar with a repeat-fruiting cultivar. Plants from the resulting seedling population were observed by ARS, university, and industry collaborators for their flowering habit throughout the growing season in Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, Oregon, and California.
They found that the genetic control of repeat fruiting was different in strawberry plants grown in relatively hotter Maryland climates than those grown in the milder, West Coast climates of Oregon and California.
ARS plant geneticist Chad Finn, with the Horticultural Crops Research Unit in Corvallis, Oregon, collaborated on this research. Finn and Lewers will use the findings from this research model to predict which seedlings in their breeding programs will be capable of repeat fruiting.—By Rosalie Marion Bliss, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
Agricultural Reasearch magazine, August 2008 Complete Article