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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Genetic Improvement for Fruits & Vegetables Laboratory » Research » Research Project #434311

Research Project: Strawberry Crop Improvement through Genomics, Genetics, and Breeding

Location: Genetic Improvement for Fruits & Vegetables Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-21220-257-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 7, 2018
End Date: Mar 6, 2023

Objective 1: Generate once-fruiting strawberry selections and varieties for the Mid-Atlantic and surrounding region, for use in traditional matted-row and/or annual plasticulture production systems, with emphasis on high yield; excellent fruit quality; long shelf life; and resistance to Colletotrichum, Botrytis, and foliar and fruit-rot diseases. [NP301, C1, PS1A, PS1B] Objective 2: Generate repeat-fruiting strawberry breeding selections with an open plant architecture; adequate runner production; high continuous yield; large fruit with excellent quality; and resistance to Colletotrichum, Botrytis, and foliar and fruit-rot diseases for use in developing varieties for extended-season production systems. [NP301, C1, PS1A, PS1B] Objective 3: Dissect the molecular, genetic, and environmental factors affecting strawberry production-efficiency traits, especially disease resistance and control of plant architecture, through initiation and development of plant organs such as stolons, branch crowns, and inflorescence structures. [NP301, C3, PS3A] Objective 4: Identify or generate new strawberry mutant genetic stocks for determining the functions or regulation of genes affecting disease resistance. [NP301, C3, PS3A]

Standard plant breeding methods will be used to generate superior strawberry cultivars for traditional production practices and fruiting for the traditional short spring season. Novel evaluation practices for fruit quality and flavor will be developed and incorporated into the annual breeding cycle. A seedling screen for resistance to anthracnose crown rot, an emerging disease of worldwide importance, will be developed to identify resistant strawberry plants and increase the breeding population’s average resistance to the disease. New cultivars resulting from selection based on increased disease resistance, fruit quality, yield, and shelf life will be released. To help satisfy demand for year-round availability, similar methods will be used to generate improved strawberry plants that fruit for an extended season from April through December. Because the longer-fruiting plants will face weather and pest challenges that are not problems during the traditional fruiting season, new comparison methods will be developed to facilitate identification of plants that produce fruit within the traditional season, and produce equally well outside the traditional strawberry season. Additional research will be done to optimize the season-extending “low-tunnel” production system developed in the previous Project Plan to better evaluate advanced breeding selections. Inheritance of the strawberry’s capacity for continuous fruiting will be studied with both classical and molecular genetics. Characterization of novel mutant diploid lines with microscopy, hormone physiology and analysis, genetics, and genomics will illuminate genetic control and regulation of stolon production, a trait of vital importance to strawberry nurseries and growers.