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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT OF TEMPERATE FRUIT NUT AND SPECIALTY CROP GENETIC RESOURCES Title: Blueberry genetic and genomic resources

Author
item Bassil, Nahla

Submitted to: International Symposium on Biotechnology of Temperate Fruit Crops and Tropical Species
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 14, 2012
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Blueberry is one of the most economically important fruit crop in the Pacific Northwest. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service, National Clonal Germplasm Repository is in charge of blueberry conservation and maintains a collection of 413 plants. Increased consumer demand for blueberries has resulted in a growing need by the industry for rapid development of new blueberry cultivars with high fruit quality, expanded fruiting season, and adaptation to a wide range of climatic conditions. Well-characterized blueberries and the availability of DNA tools are crucial to enable molecular breeding and to accelerate the development of new high quality blueberry cultivars. These DNA resources are being developed as a result of 2008-funded multi-institutional USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative project. These DNA resources include over 600,000 new publicly available DNA sequences and molecular markers. Genetic maps that allow us to locate and order genes on each of the blueberry chromosomes are being developed. DNA regions associated with cold hardiness were identified in individuals resulting from the cross of a low chill wild blueberry with a northern blueberry plant that requires more chilling. Regions of DNA associated with cold hardiness will be examined in several blueberry populations. A cross between northern highbush ‘Draper’ and southern highbush ‘Jewel’ was made to study the relationship of commercially important traits. A population of 105 individuals was produced. The population was propagated and planted at four U.S. locations in 2009: Interlachen, FL, Manor, GA, Corvallis, OR, and Grand Junction, MI. Initial analyses on data from two of the locations identified DNA regions potentially associated with the assessed traits. Future research includes ordering the DNA sequences and assigning them to each of the blueberry chromosomes; development of tools that can assay thousands of DNA regions simultaneously for each blueberry sample; determination of genes linked to chilling requirement, harvest date, and fruit quality.

Technical Abstract: Blueberry (Vaccinium) is the most economically important fruit crop within the Ericaceae. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service, National Clonal Germplasm Repository is in charge of blueberry conservation and maintains a collection of 413 accessions. Increased consumer demand for blueberries has resulted in a growing need by the industry for rapid development of new blueberry cultivars with high fruit quality, expanded fruiting season, and adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions. Well-characterized genetic resources and the availability of genomic tools are crucial for enabling marker-assisted breeding to accelerate the development of new high quality blueberry cultivars. Genomic resources are becoming available as a result of 2008-funded multi-institutional Specialty Crop Research Initiative project. These resources include over 600,000 new publicly available ESTs, molecular markers such as EST-PCR, EST-SSR and high resolution melting (HRM) markers, in addition to well-saturated linkage maps for the diploid and the tetraploid blueberry. QTLs for cold hardiness were identified in the diploid population and will be validated in other populations. The tetraploid population was planted in five locations and phenotyped for 19 traits. Initial analyses on data from two of the locations identified QTLs for all the traits. A reference genome assembly is underway and additional genomic resources are planned. These include the development of high throughput genotyping platforms, increased marker coverage in the vicinity of the QTLs associated with chilling requirement, harvest date, and fruit quality, and validation of the QTLs linked to these traits in additional breeding populations.

Last Modified: 10/30/2014
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