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Strawberry Genomes Forever at Weizmann Institute

An international team including Weizmann researchers has produced the full genome of a wild strawberry plant, paving the way for tastier berries.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/27/2010, 3:43 PM / Last Update: 12/27/2010, 7:03 PM

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An international team including Weizmann Institute researchers has produced the full genome of a wild strawberry plant, paving the way for tastier berries. A genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information.

Two Weizmann scientists, Drs. Asaf Aharoni and Avital Adato, were part of team of 74 researchers from 38 research institutes who published their findings this week in Nature Genetics.

The Israeli scientists helped map the genes and gene families responsible for the strawberry’s flavor and aroma, characteristics that that have been lost over years of breeding in the cultivated cousin of the wild strawberry and now may be improved following the research.

The woodland strawberry has now joined the elite list of plants, including rice, grapes and soya, which have had their genomes sequenced, according to Weizmann scientists. The woodland strawberry genome is relatively short, simple and easy to manipulate, and the plant grows quickly and easily, making it an ideal model plant that might provide insight into other related agricultural crops, such as the rose family and apple, peach, cherry and almond trees.

The researchers’ findings also may help breeders create plants that can be grown with less environmental impact, better nutritional profiles and larger yields.

"The wealth of genetic information collected by this strawberry genome sequencing project will help spur the next wave of research into the improvement of strawberry and other fruit crops," said Georgia Tech’s Prof. Mark Borodovsky.