Strawberry Breeders Target Disease Resistance
Since the 1930s, UC Davis has had one of the leading strawberry breeding programs in the world. In addition to continuing to increase yield, flavor, and shelf life, breeders have been tasked with developing more disease resistance. Especially as some of the fumigants used in the past are no longer accessible.
Glenn Cole is a Senior Staff Research Associate for the Strawberry Breeding Program. He says one recent success story is developing fusarium resistance.
Cole… “We had a student and it was part of her thesis work. She identified a resistance gene on a single chromosome, and because we have mapped the genome, we now have a whole particular genetic map that we can use. You know, where we can identify where these things occur and what chromosomes. And then she was able to, in conjunction with the postdoc researcher, we were able to create a marker that allows our breeding program to then go after that particular gene and make sure we've got it and all the selections we've got coming forward. So that was a really a big, a big win for us. Thus our goal is to use that tool and make sure that everything that we bring forward, that we're looking at for all the other traits that we need to look for, which is yield and taste. There's a lot of things involved in pranking the strawberry variety together to the market.”
Cole and his team develop varieties focused on the California market then license those out to companies who can get them in the hands of farmers.