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Ed Leahy

BY ED LEAHY

BerryWorld breeders "win a genome"

KeyGene's "genome-for-free" contest helps breeders develop new and better varieties of fruit

BerryWorld breeders "win a genome"

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BerryWorld’s breeding programme has earned itself a “free genome” after winning KeyGene’s genome-for-free contest.

The award will help BerryWorld Plus “accelerate” its development of new raspberry varieties, according to KeyGene.

The agri-tech company, which specialises in molecular breeding, will give BerryWorld a high-quality genome assembly of a genotype of its choice.

KeyGene said it chose BerryWorld because “it is a leader in state-of-the-art technology to accelerate the development of premium, healthy raspberries”.

Alexander Wittenberg, sequencing expert at KeyGene, said: “The raspberry genome is diploid and is highly heterozygous. So for every gene, the plant has two different versions. That is challenging and exciting. We aim to supply the breeders for BerryWorld Plus with so-called phased information, showing which version of the gene is positioned at which of the two chromosomes for many of the plant genes.”

BerryWorld’s breeding programme BerryWorld Plus was established in 2001, and is a joint venture with soft fruit grower and breeder Edward Vinson Ltd, with the 2013 launch of Sapphire raspberries one of its most successful fruits.

KeyGene said BerryWorld Plus will benefit from genome insights in the development of new varieties.

“Traditional plant breeding is a game of numbers, by using molecular tools and genomic insight we will be able to significantly increase the number of plants screened each year and enhance the chance of identifying plants that present the ideal combination of traits we are looking for,” said Dr Guillaume Daverdin, raspberry molecular breeder.

“Molecular screens will be especially important in quickly deselecting hundreds to thousands of the least promising plants before being screened by our breeding team.”

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