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CLARIFICATION: USDA Helps Sequence Woodland Strawberry Genome

This article has been updated from a previous version to clarify inaccurate information provided by the USDA and to include information provided by the Strawberry Genome Sequencing Consortium. The draft sequence of the strawberry has not yet been completed.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – An international consortium of scientists including researchers from the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service are sequencing the genome of the woodland strawberry in a project funded in part by Roche Diagnostics.

A draft sequence of the genome will be published shortly after complete analysis and peer review, according to a representative from the Strawberry Genome Sequencing Consortium.

The woodland strawberry, also known as the alpine strawberry, may serve as a 'model system' for other plants in the Rosaceae plant family. The 3,000-species Rosaceae family includes a number of economically important plants, including apple, peach, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and rose.

The genome of the woodland strawberry, Fragaria vesca, is relatively small, ARS said, which along with its rapid life cycle make it an inexpensive and useful model system for functional genomics studies.

Because it shares gene sequences with other members of the Rosaceae family, it will serve as an "important tool for addressing questions regarding gene function" for other important plants, ARS said.

The particular line used in this research, named Hawaii 4, was developed and inbred specifically to enable it to be decoded by a computer program.

Janet Slovin, an ARS molecular biologist at the Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory, helped to create the Hawaii 4 line. She plans to use the genome to study and improve heat tolerance during fruit production in strawberry.

Other researchers may use the F. Vesca sequence to develop genetic markers for more rapid breeding of other Rosaceae crops.

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