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Breakthrough in Molecular Genetics of Strawberry


The world’s first molecular map for wild strawberry (Fragaria) constructed using transferable DNA markers has been produced by scientists at East Malling Research (EMR) in association with collaborators at the University of Reading.

This work is a breakthrough in strawberry genetic research and has already been adopted as the reference map by strawberry research groups in Spain, France and the USA. It offers the potential for further international collaboration, leading towards the integration of strawberry genetic research worldwide.

This wild strawberry map will provide a foundation for the development of a map for the genetically complex commercial strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa). This in turn will lead to greater efficiencies in strawberry breeding, ultimately achieved through the integration of molecular techniques like marker assisted selection, already successfully used in apple breeding at EMR.

Wild strawberry plants from a cross between Fragaria vesca (the woodland strawberry) and Fragaria nubicola (a wild Asian strawberry), provided a model system for studying inheritance. Apart from their simpler genetic make-up relative to cultivated strawberry and production of three generations per year, the two species also differ widely in traits potentially important for strawberry breeding e.g. fruit size, runnering, everbearing, plant architecture and aromatic composition (flavour). So far 67 DNA markers and 23 genes controlling characteristics of potential commercial importance have been located on the map, providing a framework for future work.

According to their Technical Director, Dr Alwyn Thompson, “The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers is delighted that this innovative science project which we have supported, has achieved so much for the advantage of the strawberry industry. We congratulate those involved at EMR and Reading University on producing this genetic map for Fragaria (a real breakthrough) and look forward to seeing new improved, market-leading varieties as a result of the project.”

David Simpson | alfa
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