Good Fruit Grower

January 2015

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14 JANUARY 1, 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER A national team of 35 scientists from 14 U.S. universities and agencies has received a $10 million grant that will build on the foundation laid by the $14 million RosBREED project. Like the original RosBREED, RosBREED 2 will be managed by Dr. Amy Iezzoni, the tart cherry breeder at Michigan State University. Co-project director is Dr. Cameron Peace at Washington State University. The project was funded at $2 million a year over five years through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative with new money authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. "A lot of progress was made during RosBREED in finding major loci for fruit qual- ity traits and developing DNA tests so we know when plants have them," Iezzoni said. "Now we want to use this knowledge to breed high quality fruit varieties with disease resistance." In the past, she said, rosaceous crop breeders have responded to the need for genetic solutions by using disease resistance from wild or unadapted germplasm. "Few have achieved commercial success because of difficulties breeding cultivars with both high fruit quality and disease resistance," she said. This project addresses this need, she said, "through a national coordinated effort that will enable breeding programs to routinely apply modern genomics and genetics tools to efficiently and effectively deliver cultivars with producer-required disease resistances and market-essential horticultural quality. "Now, with DNA tests, we have a game changer," she said. Using them to identify seedlings carrying desirable traits—without waiting to taste the fruit—will greatly speed up the breeding process, and it will allow more generations to be developed quickly to enhance fruit quality. Titled "RosBREED: Combining Disease Resistance with Horticultural Quality in New Rosaceous Cultivars," the project will involve eight crops—apple, blackberry, peach, pear, rose, strawberry, sweet cherry, and tart cherry. Blackberries, pears, and roses are new additions, bringing new breeding programs under the RosBREED umbrella. A team of plant pathologists will join breeders in this new RosBREED venture. The pathology team leader is Jay Norelli at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia. Researchers there work with pears, peaches, and plums and have developed a breeding approach called FasTrack, in which plums have been induced to flower and set fruit at less than a year of age, greatly shortening generation times in breeding. The pathology team will include Dr. Guido Schnabel at Clemson University, who has worked extensively with Armillaria on peaches, and strawberry disease expert Dr. Kelly Ivors at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. The virtual who's who of apple, peach, cherry, and strawberry breeders in the previ- ous RosBREED effort will also be augmented by breeders working on pears, roses, and blackberries. "RosBREED brings unprecedented attention to local and regional breeding programs and a commitment to more efficiently, accurately, and creatively develop commer- cial scion and rootstock cultivars," according to the press release announcing the new funding. "The team will build on the foundation established in the preceding RosBREED proj- ect, now adding key new scientists and targeting diseases industry stakeholders across the country have identified as key challenges. Using modern DNA tools, U.S. breeders will now be able to more rapidly develop cultivars with disease resistance combined with superior horticultural quality." $10 million RosBREED 2 grant Plant pathologists will work with breeders to develop disease-resistant varieties. by Richard Lehnert "Now, with DNA tests, we have a game changer.'" —Amy Iezzoni

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