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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Genetic Improvement for Fruits & Vegetables Laboratory » Research » Research Project #424536

Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Blueberry and Cranberry: Utilization of Genomic Resources and Phenotypic/Genotypic Characterization

Location: Genetic Improvement for Fruits & Vegetables Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-21000-276-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 31, 2013
End Date: Mar 19, 2018

Objective 1: Anchor blueberry and cranberry whole genome sequences to the respective genetic linkage maps by mapping markers from scaffolds of genome assemblies. [NP 301, C1, PS 1B] Objective 2: Identify blueberry and cranberry QTLs and underlying candidate genes for traits that are important to industry (such as fruit quality, disease resistance, flowering time, chilling requirement, and cold hardiness) using mapping populations and breeding populations. [NP 301, C1, PS 1B] Subobjective 2a: Identify QTL for traits that are important to industry (such as fruit quality, disease resistance, time of flower bud set and bloom time, chilling requirement, cold hardiness, harvest date) using diploid and tetraploid mapping populations of blueberry and diploid mapping populations of cranberry. Subobjective 2b: Test markers linked to QTL for their utility in following traits in several actual breeding populations of blueberry and cranberry. Subobjective 2c: Identify underlying candidate genes for QTL identified in subobjective 2a, such as cold hardiness, chilling requirement, flowering time (flower bud set), and certain fruit quality traits in blueberry. Objective 3: Incorporate germplasm from exotic sources, e.g., section Hemimyrtillus and Vaccinium constablaei, into the blueberry breeding program. [NP 301, C1, PS 1B] Objective 4: Develop new blueberry cultivars that can withstand mechanical harvesting, and which have an expanded fruiting season, a tolerance to higher pH soils, resistance to mummy berry and fruit rot, and an adequate level of cold hardiness (via northern-adapted rabbiteye hybrids), utilizing genomic resources when appropriate. [NP 301, C1, PS 1A, PS 1B] Objective 5: Characterize key blueberry and cranberry pathogens including the development of detection methods, systematics, epidemiology, and an understanding of host-pathogen-vector interactions. [NP 301, C1, PS 1A, PS 1B; NP 303, C1, PS 1, C3, PS 3A]

The approach entails the integration of modern genomic approaches with traditional breeding and plant pathology in the development of improved blueberry and cranberry cultivars. Scientists will develop genomic resources for blueberry and cranberry including genetic linkage maps with mapped quantitative trait loci (QTL) and anchorage to the whole genome sequences, carry out gene expression studies in blueberry, cranberry, and their pathogens on candidate genes for traits important to the industry, characterize and incorporate new germplasm, and generate new blueberry cultivars that meet industry needs. Molecular markers near QTL identified in mapping populations will be tested for their utility in breeding populations. If molecular markers are validated, they will be incorporated into the breeding program where they result in time and cost savings.