01 Apr 2024

The green breeding revolution that has increased strawberry yields by +2755% in six decades

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Over the past six decades, the global production of strawberries has seen a remarkable increase, with the United States alone experiencing a surge of one million tonnes, and worldwide production growing by 8.4 million tonnes since 1960. This surge in production can be attributed to a combination of genetic advancements from Green Revolution breeding techniques and improvements in production practices.

Researchers of UC-Davis have found that in the US, the expansion of strawberry production was fueled by genetic enhancements from Green Revolution breeding and innovations in production that boosted yields by a staggering 2,755%. A study conducted on a population of strawberries in California, which has a century-long breeding history, revealed significant increases in fruit yields (up to 6,636%), counts (up to 3,940%), weights (up to 504%), and firmness (up to 769%) due to breeding efforts.

Through genomic prediction techniques, scientists traced the origins of the Green Revolution in strawberries to the early 1950s. They also identified a crucial breakthrough in breeding during the 1970s: the development of photoperiod-insensitive, perpetual flowering hybrids, which doubled yields and played a pivotal role in expanding strawberry production in California.

The study sheds light on the evolutionary journey of cultivated strawberries, which began approximately 300 years ago through artificial hybridization. Despite challenges such as inbreeding and declines in genetic diversity, modern breeding efforts have substantially increased additive genetic variation, contributing to the sustainability of strawberry yield and production increases observed during the Green Revolution.

In conclusion, this research underscores the significant role of breeding advancements and production innovations in driving the unprecedented growth of the strawberry industry, particularly in regions like California. It also highlights the importance of ongoing efforts to sustain and further enhance strawberry production to meet global demand.

Read the full article: Genetic gains underpinning a little-known strawberry Green Revolution


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