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Researchers find gene that may greatly increase strawberry production

Date: 21.2.2018 

Researchers at the University of Maryland have identified and isolated a gene that is directly involved in the way strawberry plants grow, spread and produce fruit. 
Kredit: CC0 Public Domain.

With the ability to turn this gene on and off to produce runners (a long horizontal stem ideal for producing young strawberry plants for sale) or flowers (ideal to produce fruit) and a greater understanding of how to control this process, this work has the potential to greatly increase strawberry productivity.

Strawberries are a $3 billion per year agricultural industry in the United States alone. However, the demand has only been growing over the years. There is infinite potential to enhance this industry further by understanding the mechanisms behind breeding and production of strawberry plants.

Julie Caruana, a postdoctoral researcher, under the direction of Zhongchi Liu, affiliate professor with the department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture and professor in the department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, has come significantly closer to this level of understanding by finding this gene and honing the ability to produce runners. "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," said Caruana.

There are many environmental factors that affect flowering and runnering behavior. These include temperature and day length, which is why strawberries typically produce runners in the summer months and flower in the fall, winter, and spring months. Controlling this trait and understanding the process, genetically and environmentally, is very important to the strawberry industry.

 


 

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