A consortium of researchers working across five continents, including BBSRC-funded scientists in the UK, has published the genome of the wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca). The research, published today in the journal Nature Genetics will help strawberry breeders to develop disease resistance and improve fruit quality to benefit consumers.
Dr Dan Sargent, based at East Malling Research (EMR) in Kent, collaborated on the international project as part of the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) Crop Science Initiative which was set up to fund research to underpin future plant breeding.
Dr Sargent hopes that the genome will help to identify genes that convey disease resistance, particularly to strawberry wilt (Verticillium dahliae) the most wide-spread soil-borne pathogen of cultivated strawberries. Although resistant varieties of strawberry do currently exist, they do not meet the quality criteria required to sell to consumers. Having access to the wild strawberry genome may allow breeders to produce varieties which need reduced pesticide treatment but retain the best characteristics of taste, appearance and nutrition.