The cultivated strawberry is believed to trace its genetic ancestry to as many as four diploid ancestral wild strawberries. At the UNH Agricultural Experiment Station, which specialises in strawberry research, a four-year genetic analysis of one such ancestor, Fragaria iinumae, yielded a linkage map of its seven chromosomes to the eight sets of chromosomes of the (octoploid) cultivated plant.
"Many people are trying to understand the ancestry of the cultivated strawberry so that they can better understand traits associated with specific genetic markers, such as fruit quality, flowering habits and resistance to diseases," researcher Lise Mahoney explained. "Defining the genomes of the cultivated strawberry's wild ancestors will help guide the use of genetic information in breeding for a better cultivated strawberry."
In 2011, UNH researchers were part of a team that sequenced F. vesca, another diploid ancestor of the cultivated strawberry. The work has since been put to use in strawberry genetic research around the world. "This remarkable genetic map is a valuable research tool in itself and provides a necessary resource for assembly of a F. iinumae reference genomic sequence as a much-needed complement to the previously published reference genome for F. vesca," added Mahoney.
"We are putting the genomic knowledge, resources and technologies to work at UNH to develop new strawberry varieties that will be locally adapted and suitable for organic production, to the benefit of regional strawberry growers and consumers." The research was published in The Plant Genome journal.