Submitted to: International Journal of Fruit Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/27/2010
Publication Date: 3/14/2012
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/61537
Citation: Rowland, L.J., Bell, D.J., Alkharouf, N., Bassil, N.V., Drummond, F., Beers, L., Buck, E., Finn, C.E., Graham, J., Mccallum, S., Hancock, J., Olmstead, J., Main, D. 2012. Generating genomic tools for blueberry improvement. International Journal of Fruit Science. 12:276-287. Interpretive Summary: Because of their many health benefits, there has been increased demand and consumption of blueberries in recent years. Great strides have been made in variety development since its domestication using traditional breeding approaches. However, advanced genetic tools are lacking in blueberry, which could be used to hasten improvement of winter hardiness and nutritional quality in highbush blueberry. To date, utilizing advanced technologies, we have determined partial genetic content of genes that are active in blueberry flowers and leaves subjected to cold stress and in fruit at different stages of fruit development. By determining a portion of the genetic content of these genes, we are now able to identify which genes are associated with cold hardiness, chilling requirement for flowering, and fruit quality traits, and to better understand the evolution of related blueberry species. Availability of these new genetic tools to scientists will speed future advances in breeding and other methods to identify genes controlling important horticultural traits in blueberry.
Technical Abstract: Because of their recognized health benefits, there has been increased demand and consumption of blueberries in recent years. Great strides have been made in cultivar development since its domestication using traditional breeding approaches. However, genomic tools are lacking in blueberry, which could be used to hasten improvement. The aim of our Specialty Crop Research Initiative project, funded at the end of 2008, is to develop genomic tools for molecular breeding and assessing genetic diversity of blueberry. Marker-assisted breeding would be particularly useful for combining traits for climatic adaptation with those for improved fruit and nutritional quality in highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). Genomic resources being developed include expressed sequence tag (EST) libraries, EST-based molecular markers, and genetic linkage maps. To date, transcriptome sequences have been generated from fruit at different stages of development, flower buds at different stages of cold acclimation, and leaves by "next generation" 454 sequencing. Over 500,000 sequences have been assembled into approximately 15,000 contigs. Markers derived from ESTs (simple sequence repeats and expressed sequence tag-polymerase chain reaction markers) are being used to identify quantitative trait loci associated with cold hardiness, chilling requirement, and fruit quality traits, and in studies of genetic diversity, spatial genetic structure, and gene flow in the wild lowbush blueberry (V. angustifolium), and to construct a phylogenetic tree of Vaccinium species in the section Cyanococcus. Availability of these genomic tools will allow future advances such as the development of a blueberry microarray to study gene expression and the use of marker-assisted breeding.