ENHANCEMENT OF SMALL FRUIT GERMPLASM THROUGH GENOMIC CHARACTERIZATION AND GENETIC IMPROVEMENT WITH EMPHASIS ON DISEASE RESISTANCE
Project Number: 1275-21220-213-00
Start Date: Jun 05, 2004
End Date: Oct 31, 2008
This project focuses on two main research areas: 1) breeding to develop superior small-fruit germplasm and cultivars, and 2) the identification and characterization of disease resistance in small-fruits. Specifically, the breeding research is directed at originating improved small-fruit germplasm and cultivars that combine resistance to the prevalent diseases of several growing regions along with the highest productivity and fruit quality possible. The pathology studies are targeted at developing improved disease screening methods, identifying and evaluating disease resistant germplasm, and developing improved methods of incorporating resistances into superior germplasm. The two objectives are closely related, and are often carried out in concert. Both aspects are necessary to provide new varieties that will benefit small-fruit growers and consumers. In addition, the project will evaluate parthenocarpic potential in rabbiteye blueberry.
Small fruit germplasm from established cultivar materials to wild types will be evaluated using both classical and molecular techniques. Scientists will develop improved disease screening methods, identify and evaluate disease resistant germplasm, and develop improved methods of incorporating the resistance into superior germplasm. Genetic aspects of both pathogen and host variation will be studied. Concurrent with selection for disease resistance, breeding will emphasize selection for other factors necessary to the development of successful cultivars, with particular emphasis on fruit quality and phytonutrients, environmental adaptation, and adaptation to mechanization. Vaccinium (blueberry and cranberry) breeding and disease work will be carried out at Chatsworth, New Jersey, and Fragaria (strawberry) and Rubus (blackberry and raspberry = brambles) work will be carried out at Beltsville, Maryland.