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Progress in Blueberry Research in New Zealand

Buck, Emily J., Scalzo, Jessica, Wiedow, Claudia, Hurst, Roger, Allan, Andrew C., McGhie, Tony K., Bassil, Nahla V., Rowland, Lisa J.
International journal of fruit science 2012 v.12 no.1-3 pp. 304
anthocyanins, blueberries, chemical composition, climate, color, crossing, cultivars, disease resistance, expressed sequence tags, firmness, flavor, food research, fruit quality, genes, genomics, microsatellite repeats, open pollination, polyphenols, ripening, seedlings, skeletal muscle, Germany, New Zealand, North America
Blueberries were first introduced to New Zealand in the 1950s from North America and by 1970 around 30 cultivars had been imported. Selection for new material better suited to the New Zealand climate then began using F₁ seedlings and open pollinated crosses. The Plant & Food Research Ltd blueberry breeding program (led by Dr. Jessica Scalzo) is currently run at three sites: at Hamilton and Motueka on the North and South Island, respectively, of New Zealand, and a smaller program at Dierking's Nursery in Germany. Plant & Food Research Ltd's breeding targets are to improve yield, ripening season, and disease resistance, as well as fruit quality traits, such as fruit size, firmness, flavor, color, and grittiness. Areas of research include molecular genetics, functional genomics, biochemical composition, and health, and in 2008, we joined the Speciality Crop Research Initiative project to generate genomic tools for blueberry improvement, led by Dr. Lisa Rowland. We present a summary of the microsatellite and single nucleotide polymorphism-based markers we have developed as part of the Speciality Crop Research Initiative program, as well as an update on other blueberry research undertaken at Plant & Food Research Ltd. This will include anthocyanin composition studies, research into polyphenolics and skeletal muscle damage, as well as work on our expressed sequence tag library and candidate genes within the anthocyanin pathway. We will also discuss the impact of this research on the future of blueberry breeding at Plant & Food Research Ltd.