Press Releases

Breakthrough in molecular genetics of strawberry – University of Reading

Release Date : 15 November 2004

strawberriesThe 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. A wild strawberry population from a cross between Fragaria vesca (the woodland strawberry) and Fragaria nubicola (a wild Asian strawberry), provided a model system for studying inheritance. Chosen for their diploid genomes (cultivated strawberry is octoploid) and production of three generations per year, the two species also differ widely in potentially important traits for breeding in the cultivated strawberry 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 Dr Alwyn Thompson, Technical Director of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers: "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." This work will be displayed on EMR's stand at the Soft Fruit Conference where David Simpson will be available to answer questions. end Notes for Editors: 1. East Malling Research (EMR) is an independent provider of research and consultancy serving the perennial horticulture industry. EMR builds on 90 years of experience of successfully transferring information that has transformed horticulture. For further information about EMR please see 2. The University of Reading is a globally renowned research and teaching institution with around 15,000 students and 4,000 staff. It is one of the top 20 research universities in the UK. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 15 departments were awarded an RAE rating of 5, and five departments were designated the very top rating of 5*. The University consistently achieves well in the National Quality Assurance Agency teaching standards assessments, with many departments scoring 23 or 24 points, out of the 24. For further information about the School of Plant Sciences please see 3. This work was originally funded by the University of Reading Research Endowment Fund, the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and East Malling Trust for Horticultural Research. Research is continuing with funding from Defra. 4. A molecular map is a representation of the position of genes on a chromosome. 5. Diploid plants have two copies of every chromosome; Octoploid plants have eight copies of every chromosome. 6. Soft Fruit Conference runs from 23-24th November at the Ashford International Hotel. E-mail for details. For further information please contact: David Simpson, Research Scientist, East Malling Research (Tue 16th, Wed 17th only) Tel: 01732 523744 E-mail: Ursula Twomey, Information Officer, East Malling Research Tel: 01732 843833 Fax: 01732 849067 E-mail: Professor Nick Battey, School of Plant Sciences, The University of Reading Tel: 0118 931 6441 Email: Craig Hillsley, Press Officer, The University of Reading Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email:


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