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Agronomy 2018, 8(9), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8090174

Molecular and Genetic Bases of Fruit Firmness Variation in Blueberry—A Review

Blueberry Breeding and Genomics Laboratory, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
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Received: 3 August 2018 / Revised: 24 August 2018 / Accepted: 30 August 2018 / Published: 5 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Berry Crop Production and Protection)
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Abstract

Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) has been recognized worldwide as a valuable source of health-promoting compounds, becoming a crop with some of the fastest rising consumer demand trends. Fruit firmness is a key target for blueberry breeding as it directly affects fruit quality, consumer preference, transportability, shelf life, and the ability of cultivars to be machine harvested. Fruit softening naturally occurs during berry development, maturation, and postharvest ripening. However, some genotypes are better at retaining firmness than others, and some are crispy, which is a putatively extra-firmness phenotype that provides a distinct eating experience. In this review, we summarized important studies addressing the firmness trait in blueberry, focusing on physiological and molecular changes affecting this trait at the onset of ripening and also the genetic basis of firmness variation across individuals. New insights into these topics were also achieved by using previously available data and historical records from the blueberry breeding program at the University of Florida. The complex quantitative nature of firmness in an autopolyploid species such as blueberry imposes additional challenges for the implementation of molecular techniques in breeding. However, we highlighted some recent genomics-based studies and the potential of a QTL (Quantitative Trait Locus) mapping analysis and genome editing protocols such as CRISPR/Cas9 to further assist and accelerate the breeding process for this important trait. View Full-Text
Keywords: firmness; Vaccinium; ripening; cell wall; crispy; quantitative genetics; breeding; molecular markers; genome editing firmness; Vaccinium; ripening; cell wall; crispy; quantitative genetics; breeding; molecular markers; genome editing
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Cappai, F.; Benevenuto, J.; Ferrão, L.F.V.; Munoz, P. Molecular and Genetic Bases of Fruit Firmness Variation in Blueberry—A Review. Agronomy 2018, 8, 174.

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