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New EU research project BreedingValue aims to develop new breeding strategies for resilient and nutritious berries

JKI-Genbank Dresden: Erhaltung von Erdbeersorten und Fragaria-Wildarten. © M.Höfer/JKI
JKI genebank collection of strawberry in Dresden (state of Saxony). © M.Höfer/JKI
Formen- und Farbenvielfalt bei Erdbeeren in der JKI-Genbank-Sammlung in der DGO. © D. Ulrich/JKI
Logo des EU-Projekts BreedingValue Start 2021

European research partners and breeders are coming together to jointly focus on a better understanding and adaptation of the genetic resources of strawberry, raspberry and blueberry for a sustainable berry production throughout the European Union.

Increased demand in berries across Europe meets the challenges brought on by climate change, environmental preservation and the need for new cultivation systems as well as high-quality produce. The new research project BreedingValue, a European collaboration of 20 partners from eight countries, launched in January 2021 and will explore the most promising berry genetic resources (GenRes) to address these challenges. Receiving just short of EUR 7 million from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, the project will be coordinated by the Università Politecnica Delle Marche in Ancona, Italy, over the next four years.

Amongst the four partners from Germany is the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI), the Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants. At its location in Dresden (state of Saxony), the JKI manages a genebank for fruit crop species that includes thousands of genetically different accessions of domestic cultivars and related wild species. These collections provide a unique resource for basic genetic research and fruit breeding. JKI's ex situ field collection contains 3,000 accessions of different botanical species grown on an approximately 10 ha area. For the goal the new BreedingValue project set out to achieve, JKI's collection of old varieties and wild relatives of strawberry may prove useful. It is one of only two strawberry collections in the German Genbanking Network for Fruits, the "Deutsche Genbank Obst (DGO)", and holds plants representing a diversity of genes and gene combinations for traits. To use this genetic resource, breeding researchers and breeders rely on a comprehensive evaluation of phenotypic and genotypic characters. JKI breeders focus on the evaluation data of complex traits like yield, resistance to pathogens and diseases, growing characters etc., - traits that are crucial for the use of these plants.

For further information about the BreedingValue project and its European partners please read the official press release on the website https://breedingvalue.eu/ (here also provided under downloads).