Massive phenotyping of multiple cranberry populations reveals novel QTLs for fruit anthocyanin content and other important chemical traits
Because of its known phytochemical activity and benefits for human health, American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon L.) production and commercialization around the world has gained importance in recent years. Flavonoid compounds as well as the balance of sugars and acids are key quality characteristics of fresh and processed cranberry products. In this study, we identified novel QTL that influence total anthocyanin content (TAcy), titratable acidity (TA), proanthocyanidin content (PAC), Brix, and mean fruit weight (MFW) in cranberry fruits. Using repeated measurements over the fruit ripening period, different QTLs were identified at specific time points that coincide with known chemical changes during fruit development and maturation. Some genetic regions appear to be regulating more than one trait. In addition, we demonstrate the utility of digital imaging as a reliable, inexpensive and high-throughput strategy for the quantification of anthocyanin content in cranberry fruits. Using this imaging approach, we identified a set of QTLs across three different breeding populations which collocated with anthocyanin QTL identified using wet-lab approaches. We demonstrate the use of a high-throughput, reliable and highly accessible imaging strategy for predicting anthocyanin content based on cranberry fruit color, which could have a large impact for both industry and cranberry research.
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