NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The European Union is leading funding for a €10 million ($14.3 million) multi-national research effort to use genomics technologies to improve breeding for apples and peaches, two of the most popular fruits in Europe.
The FruitBreedomics project will receive €6 million in financing from the EU to support four-and-a-half years of studies seeking to discover genes that could be used to improve important horticultural traits.
The research will include the collaboration of research institutes, universities, and small and medium enterprises from 10 European countries, as well as South Africa, New Zealand, Israel, China, and the US, and it will involve genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, and ecophysiology studies.
The research partners seek to use these approaches to improve breeding efficiency, to develop disease-resistant cultivars, and to develop biomarkers that are associated with traits for fruit crispness and juiciness.
"The European fruit industry is facing economic challenges imposed by increasingly fierce international competition and decreasing fruit consumption", François Laurens, FruitBreedomics' project coordinator at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, said in a statement.
"With FruitBreedomics we will provide the outputs of the fruit genetics and genomics research to breeding programmes so that they can in the future release cultivars better suited to meet these challenges through a more sustainable production," Laurens added.
Because apple and peach are in the rosaceous crop group that includes pear, strawberry, raspberry, and others, the knowledge discovered in this research may be valuable in their cultivation as well.
The FruitBreedomics project began with a kick-off meeting hosted by INRA in Angers, France, in March.