Submitted to: Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 4, 2008
Publication Date: November 8, 2008
Citation: Bell, D.J., Rowland, L.J., Polashock, J.J., Drummond, F.A. 2008. Suitability of EST-PCR markers developed in highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) for genetic fingerprinting and relationship studies in lowbush blueberry (V. angustifolium Ait.). Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 133:701-707. Interpretive Summary: Most commercial production of blueberry comes from highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum) and lowbush (Vaccinium angustifolium) types. About 90,000 tons of highbush fruit are produced annually throughout the United States, whereas production of lowbush blueberries ranges from 40,000 to 55,000 tons in primarily Maine and eastern Canada. Commercial lowbush blueberry production is from managed wild fields, unlike highbush blueberry production which is from planted improved varieties. Better management of wild lowbush fields by optimizing fertilization and irrigation, deterring competition from weeds, and minimizing the losses from disease and insect damage has resulted in a four-fold increase in yield during the last several decades. These kinds of increases are unlikely to continue, however, in the absence of detailed knowledge of the genetics of this species. Our laboratory originally developed a type of DNA marker called EST-PCR markers for genetic mapping and DNA fingerprinting in highbush blueberry. Here, by testing these markers on several individual lowbush blueberry plants growing wild in two fields in Maine, we show that these markers are useful for DNA fingerprinting and genetic diversity studies in the lowbush blueberry. This information is useful to other scientists for genetic improvement of lowbush blueberry.
Technical Abstract: Little is known about the genetic structure and variability of wild fields or of the dramatic differences in yield among clones (genetic individuals) of Maine’s most economically important fruit crop, lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.). EST-PCR markers, which were originally developed for genetic mapping purposes in Vaccinium corymbosum L., are shown here to be valuable for genetic fingerprinting and relationship studies in the related species, V. angustifolium. As part of an interspecific genetic relationship study, 14 genotypes including at least two specimens of each of four closely related species, V. pallidum Ait., V. corymbosum, V. boreale Hall & Aald., and V. myrtilloides Michx., and the only four pedigreed cultivars of V. angustifolium, grouped out as expected in a genetic similarity dendrogram (matrix ‘r’ correlation = 0.91). This work is ultimately aimed at using these markers in exploring how genetic relationship affects yield among proximal and distant breeding individuals via controlled field hand crosses. To help address this issue, a separate group of six individuals of V. angustifolium from two managed fields were also genotyped using the EST-PCR markers. The markers were very effective at intraspecific discrimination of individuals within the same field.