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Genetic Characterisation and genomic organisation of factors affecting fruit texture - HH3701SX

Fleshy fruits are an essential part of the human diet providing vital vitamins, minerals and other health promoting compounds such as lycopene that have been implicated in reducing the incidence of chronic conditions such as heart disease and certain cancers. The economic value of fruits is estimated at £3.8bn retail in the UK.

Effective control of the ripening process is very important to deliver to the consumer high quality fresh and processed fruit products and to encourage increased consumption of these products. Currently the industry in the UK and worldwide faces significant problems relating to the control of storage and shelf life and predicting and controlling the quality of the ripe fruit, especially attributes such as texture. A major breakthrough would be identification of generic genes associated with texture and shelf-life in fleshy fruits. This type of information on the genetics of fruit quality will impact on the strawberry genetic improvement, already funded by DEFRA at HRI, and similarly will provide the basis for selective crop improvement in the top fruit breeding programme at East Malling, through the development of appropriate molecular markers.
Furthermore, Information on these regulatory factors could allow the production of novel diagnostic tests to predict and ensure quality throughout the supply chain.

The aim of this project is to identify and characterise generic ripening-regulatory genes controlling texture and shelf-life in a wide range of fleshy fruits and use this information to develop strategies for improving fruit quality. In this new project we propose to build on the success of the approaches developed in HH1011stf and HH1023sx on specific genetic determinants of texture. The successful identification of a number of ripening regulatory genes by us and others as the result of BBSRC and DEFRA funded work provides an exciting opportunity to test the conservation of gene function in fleshy fruits and survey natural variation within these genes. The generic nature of the key regulatory genes in our possession will be tested in strawberry and apple.

These goals fit with DEFRA`s priorities on `Sustainable supply of flowers (ornamentals), fruit and vegetables`, to enhance pre- and post-harvest quality throughout the supply chain and facilitate increased consumer choice that can contribute to a healthy diet through increased consumption of fruit and vegetables. Better control of shelf-life and texture of fleshy fruits would provide what the market requires in terms of quality, continuity of supply and value for money. Deliverables for the industry will be in the form of specific markers and associated information to be used in targeted genetic improvement of texture and shelf-life, together with the opportunity to develop diagnostic kits for use in the production and supply chain.


1.Test the generic role of the NOR , RIN genes in ripening of fleshy fruits using transgenic strawberries.

2. Identify the ripening-related loci for the apple orthologue of FUL. Develop locus specific assays to survey allelic variation and association with texture. Use this and sequence information around established QTLs to deliver markers for top fruit breeding.

3.Develop database that will draw together information on apple varieties, fruit quality and allelic variation.

4. Determine whether our suite of regulatory genes will provide diagnostic markers which can be used to track and predict changes in shelf-life and texture throughout the supply chain.

Likely orthologues of NOR and RIN in strawberry and FUL in apple have been isolated. Therefore, objectives (1) and (2) can proceed immediately and are not interdependent. (1) and (2) are complementary approaches focusing in each case on a gene where we have evidence for their role in ripening. Development of markers in (2) will depend on confirming association with texture traits. Database development (3) depends on the information from (2) becoming available. The 4th objective depends on the usefulness of the genes as determined in (1) and (2). At each critcal decision point there will be full discussion with the project officer.

It is not known if the orthologues of the tomato ripening regulatory genes, e.g. NOR , will be effective at modulating ripening in strawberry, but NOR, RIN and possibly CNR will be tested to maximise the chances of success. A likely strawberry RIN orthologue is being characterised at present. If initial difficulties are experienced relating to the complexity of FUL loci a decision can be made as to whether to use an alternative , e.g. CNR
Project Documents
• Executive Summary : Genetic Characterisation and genomic organisation of factors affecting fruit texture   (32k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2006

Cost: £509,752
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Warwick - HRI, Horticulture Research International
Allocated - WHRI              
Peer Review              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study