Tim Hearden/Capital Press
TOKYO — The breeding of high-quality strawberries with a high market value will be greatly accelerated by a new achievement, researchers say.
A world first, the two-year collaborative work by researchers in Japan and China succeeded in sequencing the whole genome of the cultivated strawberry and four closely-related wild strawberries.
This achievement was accomplished by taking advantage of advanced genome sequencing and information processing technology.
The research has also found genes that can be used for future breeding, including genes unique to the cultivated strawberry, and genes related to disease resistance, the research’s head Sachiko Isobe said.
“We expect the research’s findings will help in discovering genes related to serious diseases affecting strawberries worldwide such as powdery mildew, anthracnose and Fusarium wilt,” said Isobe, head of the Kazusa DNA Research Institute’s Laboratory of Applied Plant Genomics in Kisarazu.
Researchers from the Chiba Prefecture Agriculture and Forestry Research Center in Chiba City, Kyushu University in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Kagawa University in Takamatsu, as well as the Nanshan Botanical Garden in Chongqing, China, also collaborated in the work.
The researchers also expect their achievement to make it easier to discover and study the functions of genes related to traits such as color, shape, taste and health benefits.
The cultivated strawberry has a complex genome structure of eight sets of genomes. By comparison, humans have only two sets of genomes. Because of this it has been difficult to breed strawberries.
In a diploid species, such as humans, a progeny inherits one set of genomes each parent. The traits of a progeny is determined by interactions of genes located on the two genomes.
In an octoploid species, such as cultivated strawberries, a progeny inherits four sets of genomes from each parent plant. The genes located on the eight genomes enter into complex interactions with each other.
“Therefore, it is difficult to predict hereditary patterns of traits by parental trait values,” Isobe said.
The parental lines used in traditional breeding programs have been decided by the breeder’s experience and feelings, Isobe said.
“We expect the genome sequencing will help the understanding of complex hereditary patterns in the cultivated strawberry,” she said.