Better and tastier quality of strawberry and other crops in the family could be on their way as an international team of scientists has sequenced the genome of the woodland strawberry.
The woodland strawberry, formally known as Fragaria vesca, is similar to the cultivated strawberry but less complex, making it easier for scientists to study.
Using a newly developed pattern recognition program called GeneMark.hmm-ES+, Mark Borodovsky, of the Georgia Tech Paul Burns, who worked on the project, identified 34,809 genes, of which 55 percent were assigned to gene families.
"GeneMark.hmm-ES+ is a hybrid program that uses both DNA and RNA sequences to predict protein-coding genes," said Borodovsky.
Borodovsky developed the first version of GeneMark in 1993. In 1995, this program was used to find genes in the first completely sequenced genomes of bacteria and archea.
Further analysis of the woodland strawberry genome revealed genes involved in key biological processes, such as flavour production, flowering and response to disease. Additional examination also revealed a core set of signal transduction elements shared between the strawberry and other plants.
In the long term, breeders will be able to use the information to 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," added Borodovsky.
The findings were reported in the journal Nature Genetics.