New Zealand-based fruit science company HortResearch and Genesis Research and Development Corporation Limited have released over 130,000 kiwifruit gene sequences referred to as expressed sequence tags (ESTs). These are the active genes in the plant that govern such characteristics as flavour, colour, shape, vitamin content and aspects of fruit development such as ripening and storage life.
The researchers say these data will be utilized in the development of new kiwifruit varietieslinks through marker assisted selection (MAS).
In a MAS breeding programme, breeders use traditional crossing techniques to breed new varieties – which are then assessed for their commercial potential by searching their DNA for markers that indicate the presence of genes linked to desirable fruit traits. ESTs are essential in helping scientists identify the genes they’re looking for.
“Our breeding programme with ZESPRI generates many thousands of seedlings every year. Without MAS, we would have to plant out each of those seedlings, wait years until they bear fruit and then assess which plants we wanted to commercialise or use for further breeding. With MAS, we can quickly “scan” the seedlings and find out right-away which ones are likely to have the type of fruit we want.”