World's blueberries protected in unique, living collection

May 05, 2011

Familiar blueberries and their lesser-known wild relatives are safeguarded by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and curators at America's official blueberry genebank. The plants, collected from throughout the United States and more than two dozen foreign countries, are growing at the USDA Agricultural Research Service National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Ore.

The blueberries are maintained as outdoor , potted greenhouse and screenhouse specimens, tissue culture plantlets, or as seeds, according to research leader Kim E. Hummer.

The genebank's purpose is to ensure that these plants, and the diverse genepool that they represent, will be protected for future generations to grow, enjoy, study and improve. For example, plant can use plants in the collection as parents for new and even better blueberries for farm or garden.

Blueberries and several other small berries are among the fruit, nut and specialty crops housed at the Corvallis repository, which in turn is part of a nationwide, ARS-managed network of plant genebanks.

Likely the most comprehensive of its kind in the , the blueberry collection nevertheless continues to expand, Hummer reports. Some acquisitions, referred to as accessions, are donations from breeders. Others are acquired through collecting expeditions, which have taken plant explorers to Russia, China, Ecuador and Uruguay, among other places, as well as throughout the United States to find new blueberry plants for the repository.

The collection includes species of wild native to the Pacific Northwest that have pigmented flesh or pulp. Some breeders are trying to breed some of these species into the familiar highbush blueberry that has a white interior, Hummer noted.

If breeders can put color on the inside of berries through cross-breeding the internal-color berry plants with highbush plants, the breeders may be able to produce a berry that gives fuller color to processed blueberry jams, jellies, juices and dried or frozen fruit.

Other prized specimens at the may someday become landscaping favorites. One example: low-growing Vaccinium praestans from Russia, China and Japan. Also known as redberry Kraznika or rock azalea, it could make an interesting, attractive ground cover that comes complete with edible fruit.

Explore further: The origin of the language of life

More information: Read more about this and other blueberry research in the May/June 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive… s0511.htm#collection

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Southern farmers realize profits from highbush blueberries

Jun 30, 2008

Southern highbush blueberries are emerging as an important fruit crop in Georgia, but experienced farmers say the fruit can be a challenge to grow. To determine if the blueberry shows true promise as a profitable ...

Tropical blueberries are extreme super fruits

Apr 27, 2011

The first analysis of the healthful antioxidant content of blueberries that grow wild in Mexico, Central and South America concludes that some of these fruits have even more healthful antioxidants than the blueberries — ...

Recommended for you

The origin of the language of life

18 hours ago

The genetic code is the universal language of life. It describes how information is encoded in the genetic material and is the same for all organisms from simple bacteria to animals to humans. However, the ...

Quest to unravel mysteries of our gene network

Dec 18, 2014

There are roughly 27,000 genes in the human body, all but a relative few of them connected through an intricate and complex network that plays a dominant role in shaping our physiological structure and functions.

EU court clears stem cell patenting

Dec 18, 2014

A human egg used to produce stem cells but unable to develop into a viable embryo can be patented, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.