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item Polashock, James

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/25/2003
Publication Date: 1/25/2003
Citation: Polashock, J.J. 2003. Disease resistance in blueberry and approaches to marker-assisted selection. Meeting Abstract. P.48.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: There are two main approaches to crop improvement. The first is traditional breeding. The second is direct genetic manipulation of the plant using biotechnology. Breeding has the advantage of being publicly accepted and will be our primary approach in producing plants with better disease resistance. The first step in any breeding program is the selection of parental material exhibiting the desired trait(s). The USDA breeding program at the P.E. Marucci Center has amassed a large body of data regarding the resistance of numerous cultivars to two important diseases, mummy berry and anthracnose fruit rot. Progeny already developed and screened by this program will be used to develop marker-assisted selection (MAS), i.e. selection based on the presence or absence of a DNA marker. The success of MAS is dependent on the molecular identification of genetic material that is associated with the desired trait. Once identified, that genetic material can be routinely detected through DNA amplification and visualized on a gel as a 'marker'. The 'marker' can then be used to screen progeny for potential resistance to that particular disease while still in the seedling stage. MAS is attractive since one disadvantage of traditional breeding is the length of time required to go from seed to progeny that can be evaluated. Application of MAS can dramatically reduce the number of progeny that need to be field screened, saving time and resources. Another disadvantage of conventional breeding is that many genes, some of which are undesirable, may be transferred to progeny. If the desired trait can be conferred by expression of a single gene, that gene can be directly incorporated into an elite cultivar using biotechnology. One perfect example of this approach is coat protein-mediated resistance to viruses. Specifically, expression of the blueberry scorch virus coat protein gene in blueberry plants should confer resistance to the virus. This technology requires a reliable gene transfer (i.e. transformation) procedure that does not yet exist for blueberry. We are in the process of developing the necessary methods.