|BEERS, LEE - The Ohio State University|
|DRUMMOND, FRANCIS - University Of Maine|
Submitted to: Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/25/2019
Publication Date: 5/30/2019
Citation: Beers, L., Rowland, L.J., Drummond, F.A. 2019. Genetic diversity of lowbush blueberry throughout the United States in managed and non-managed populations . Agriculture. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060113.
Interpretive Summary: Lowbush blueberry production, which makes up about 1/4 of the total blueberry production in the U.S., is from intensively managed wild fields in Maine. Individual plants of wild lowbush blueberry are quite variable in terms of yield and other traits, and we have been investigating possible causes of these differences. In this study, molecular markers were used to evaluate the genetic diversity of lowbush blueberry across its geographic range in the eastern U.S., from North Carolina to Maine, and to compare genetic diversity among four paired populations in Maine, managed and nearby non-managed forest populations. Results indicated that non-managed fields do have somewhat greater genetic diversity than fields managed for commercial production, although there is still much genetic diversity within managed fields. The application of herbicides, pruning, etc. could have negative impacts on certain individuals in managed fields and result in reduced diversity. Results also indicated that populations sampled from warmer locations (Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania) have a high level of diversity similar to cooler, northern locations (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York). This information will be useful to scientists interested in improving yields and maintaining genetic diversity in lowbush blueberry populations.
Technical Abstract: Expressed sequenced tagged-polymerase chain reaction (EST-PCR) molecular markers were used to evaluate the genetic diversity of lowbush blueberry across its geographic range and to compare genetic diversity among four paired managed/non-managed populations. Seventeen lowbush blueberry populations were sampled in a general north south transect throughout eastern United States with distances between 27 km to 1600 km separating populations. Results show that the majority of genetic variation is found within populations (75%) versus among populations (25%), and that each population was genetically unique (P = 0.0001) with the exception of the Jonesboro, ME and Lubec, ME populations that were found not to be significantly different (P = 0.228). The effects of management for commercial fruit harvesting on genetic diversity were investigated in four locations in Maine with paired managed and non-managed populations. Significant differences were found between the populations indicating that commercial management influences the genetic diversity of lowbush blueberries in the landscape, despite the fact that planting does not occur; forests are harvested and the existing understory blueberry plants are what become established