Narrow-sense heritability and among-family and within-family variance components were estimated for antioxidant activity (AA), total phenolic content (TPH), and anthocyanin content (ACY) in blueberry (Vaccinium L. sp.) fruit. AA, TPH, and ACY were determined in the parents and in 10 offspring from each of 20 random crosses for each of 2 years at Becker, Minn. Offspring-midparent regression analysis provided combined-year heritability estimates of 0.43 ± 0.09 (P ≤ 0.0001) for AA, 0.46 ± 0.11 (P ≤ 0.0001) for TPH, and 0.56 ± 0.10 (P ≤ 0.0001) for ACY. Analyses of variance delineated variation among and within families for AA, TPH, and ACY (P ≤ 0.001). Year-to-year variation in the means for all offspring genotypes was not significant for AA or TPH, but there were changes in rank between years for families and for offspring within families for these traits. Year-to-year variation in the mean for all offspring genotypes was significant for ACY, but rank changes were observed only among offspring within families, not among families. In total, 18 of 200 offspring from 7 of the 20 crosses were transgressive segregants for AA, exceeding the higher parent of the cross by at least two sds. Estimates of variance components showed that variation among families accounted for 24% to 27% of total variance for the three traits. However, variation within families was greater than that among families, accounting for 38% to 56% of total variance for the three traits. These results suggest that increasing antioxidant activity in blueberry through breeding is feasible, and that the breeding strategies utilized should exploit the large within-family variation that exists.
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