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Cholani K. Weebadde* and James F. Hancock

While it is important for strawberry breeders to know the genetics of day-neutrality, evidence for inheritance of the trait is still contradictory. It is not known how many genes govern the trait, to what extent each gene affects phenotype and how the environment influences gene expression. Several recent studies point toward a polygenic threshold model and a rejection of the single gene model. A linkage mapping approach is being used to determine if day neutrality can be mapped to several different quantitative trait loci (QTL) that may represent different genes. To confirm that a linkage mapping approach is the method of choice for QTL detection, a small population of the cross `Honeoye' x `Tribute' consisting of 57 progeny segregating for the trait was genotyped with single dose restriction fragment (SDRF) markers and a preliminary genetic map was created using Join Map 3.0. Results separated the molecular markers into at least 24 linkage groups and several putative QTL for day neutrality were identified indicating that the technique will be successful. However, due to the complexity of the octoploid genome of strawberry, over 200 progeny need to be genotyped to build a complete map that includes the 56 linkage groups of the genome. Furthermore, for determining QTL, an accurate phenotypic evaluation is critical. Individuals of the population above were phenotyped under field conditions (East Lansing, Mich.) in 2002 and 2003, and are now being analyzed under controlled temperature and photoperiod conditions for confirmation of the QTL detected for the trait. A larger population of the same cross with over 200 progeny has also been generated and will be mapped using molecular markers after determining their phenotype under the same environmental conditions.

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Cholani K. Weebadde and James F. Hancock

While it is of great significance for strawberry breeders to know the genetics of day-neutrality (DN), evidence for inheritance of the trait is still contradictory. A linkage mapping approach is being used to determine how many QTL regulate DN and the proportion of the variability explained by each. A preliminary genetic linkage map was constructed for 125 individuals of the day neutra× short day (SD) cross `Tribute' × `Honeoye' using single dose restriction fragments (SDRFs) of amplified fragment length polymorphic (AFLP) markers. Over 500 SDRFs from 55 AFLP primer combinations were used to build the map using the software tool Join Map 3.0 at a LOD score of 3.0. Single marker analysis using WinQTL cartographer software previously determined 27 SDRF markers to co-segregate with DN for 57 individuals of the mapping population phenotyped in the field for the years 2002 and 2003, indicating putative QTL for DN. These markers were included in the linkage analysis and seven of them mapped to five different linkage groups that may indicate the quantitative nature of the trait. For determining QTL and percentage of phenotype governed by each QTL, however, accurate phenotypic evaluation is critical. Therefore, controlled environment (growth chamber) studies were used to obtain flowering response data under SD and long day (LD) conditions with two day/night temperatures. This study was conducted for the entire mapping population (over 400 individuals) so that QTL detected can be confirmed by fine mapping the QTL regions. We will also test how robust the QTL detected are, by analyzing the same segregating population at six different field locations in the United States (California, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Oregon) for their flowering response under SD and LD conditions.

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Chengyan Yue, R. Karina Gallardo, James Luby, Alicia Rihn, James R. McFerson, Vicki McCracken, David Bedford, Susan Brown, Kate Evans, Cholani Weebadde, Audrey Sebolt and Amy F. Iezzoni

Systematic studies of the relative importance of apple traits for U.S. apple producers to inform U.S. apple breeding programs have been lacking. To fill this gap, a series of audience surveys with instant feedback at five apple producer meetings across the United States was conducted. The traits included in this study were fruit crispness, juiciness, firmness, flavor, soluble solids concentration, sugar–acid balance, shelf life at retail, freedom from storage disorders, host plant disease resistance, and other fruit and tree traits provided by the producer. Producers rated fruit flavor and crispness as the most important traits for a successful apple cultivar. The relative importance assigned to traits was associated with growing location and producers’ years of experience in the decision-making process of managing apple orchards. This study contributes directly to a larger effort that provides breeding programs with systematic knowledge of trait preferences of supply chain members, including producers, and should result in a more targeted approach to developing and commercializing new apple cultivars.

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Chengyan Yue, R. Karina Gallardo, James J. Luby, Alicia L. Rihn, James R. McFerson, Vicki McCracken, Nnadozie Oraguzie, Cholani Weebadde, Audrey Sebolt and Amy Iezzoni

Developing new cherry cultivars requires breeders to be aware of existing and emerging needs throughout the supply chain, from producer to consumer. Because breeding programs in perennial crop plants like sweet and tart cherries require both extended time and extensive resources, understanding and targeting priority traits is critical to improve the efficiency of breeding programs. This study investigated the relative importance of fruit and tree traits to sweet and tart cherry producers using ordered probit models. Tart cherry producers considered productivity and fruit firmness to be the most important traits, whereas sweet cherry producers regarded fruit size, fruit flavor, fruit firmness, freedom from pitting, and powdery mildew resistance as important traits. The location of producers’ orchards and their demographic backgrounds influenced their perceptions of the importance of traits. Our findings provide a quantitative basis to reinforce existing priorities of breeding programs or suggest new targets.

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Chengyan Yue, R. Karina Gallardo, James Luby, Alicia Rihn, James R. McFerson, Vicki McCracken, Vance M. Whitaker, Chad E. Finn, James F. Hancock, Cholani Weebadde, Audrey Sebolt and Amy Iezzoni

The primary goal of this research was to evaluate the relative importance of strawberry fruit quality and plant traits to strawberry producers. Previous studies focus on strawberry traits that impact postharvest quality and marketable yield; however, studies emphasizing the importance of these traits to strawberry producers are scarce. To investigate U.S. strawberry producer trait preferences, a series of audience surveys were conducted at four strawberry producer meetings across the United States. Results indicate that fruit firmness, fruit flavor, and fruit shelf life at retail were the most important fruit/plant traits to producers for a successful strawberry cultivar to possess. Growing state and producers’ years involved in the decision-making process of strawberry farms impacted the relative importance of the fruit/plant traits. This study directly contributes to a larger investigation of supply chain members’ trait preferences to improve the efficiency of Rosaceae fruit crop breeding programs and to increase the likelihood of new cultivar adoption. The overall project should result in a more efficient approach to new strawberry cultivar development and commercialization.