Researchers in the US say they have identified the gene in strawberries that controls the way it grows, spread and grows fruit.
The breakthrough, published in Molecular Plant journal, could eventually be used to help extend growing seasons and productivity through the creation of new varieties.
Julie Caruana, a postdoctoral researcher with the project, said: “We know at least one gene that is definitely involved, and going forward, we can determine what other genes are involved and how they interact.”
Zhongchi Liu, affiliate professor with the department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the university, explained how the development could help bring ever-bearing strawberries into the mainstream.
“Most strawberry plants in use today are known as June bearers, or plants that only produce berries once per year,” he said.
“Since strawberry plants are only kept for two years due to significant production drop off with age, farmers only get two harvests from a typical June bearer.
“Ever-bearers on the other hand can produce multiple harvests each year, increasing overall strawberry yield. But they are relatively unpopular at the moment for farmers and at nurseries because they are poor runner makers. It is difficult to propagate ever-bearers.
“If we can find a way to induce runner production in ever-bearers, the market for these strawberry plants could open up, increasing strawberry yield and having major impacts on production.”