White strawberries? How genetics is creating the berry of the future


For a little berry, the genetics of the strawberry are astoundingly complex. Humans have two sets of chromosomes, making inherited traits such as eye color relatively easy to predict. The modern strawberry is octoploid — eight sets of chromosomes — and has a correspondingly huge increase in possible combinations that are expressed in qualities like flavor, size, color, and firmness.

Click image for larger version.
Click image for larger version.

Phil Stewart, the principal scientist for breeding at the strawberry giant Driscoll, starts a new breed by crossing two parent plants in a greenhouse. When the new plant is large enough, it sends out tendrils called runners, which Stewart and his staff pin into pots. The runners sink roots and grow into daughter plants that are exact genetic matches. He starts with about 27,000 genetically distinct seedlings growing in the test field in April. About 1 percent of those get replanted for a second year, and fewer still see a second, third, and fourth season in some of Driscoll’s other test plots. Just one or two will graduate to testing in commercial fields, and, if all goes well, Driscoll’s will name a new strawberry and release it to its farmers.

One of the varieties stands out on looks alone: a white berry with red seeds. White strawberries were once common; to get that color, Stewart used material from the White Carolina, developed in the 1700s. It’s one of the oldest varieties for which there is still genetic material, maintained at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s DNA bank in Corvallis, Ore. There are desirable traits associated with white, including resistance to rot and disease. Stewart’s white variety — so far unnamed — is about five generations in. Driscoll’s sells it in Hong Kong, where there’s a market for expensive white fruit. Stewart also used to bring them home when his kids were younger — white strawberries don’t leave stains behind the way reds do. Stewart continues his search. He’s working with a team to map the strawberry genome and identify genes associated with susceptibility to disease.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: How Driscoll’s Is Hacking the Strawberry of the Future

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend