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  • Author or Editor: Mary A. Lila x
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Blueberry (Vaccinium L. section Cyanococcus Gray), a rich source of polyphenolics with important implications for human health and chronic diseases, has become a major fruit commodity in the United States. This study was designed to assess the impact of introgression through interspecific hybridization on anthocyanin (ANC) profiles among blueberry species. Southern highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum L.) and rabbiteye blueberry (V. virgatum Ait.) commercial cultivars, North Carolina blueberry breeding selections, and blueberry breeding populations with varying degrees of introgression from multiple species were used to address this question. The breeding selections and populations were created and selected for traits not directly related to their ANC profiles and are therefore likely representative of the current selection objectives of most public and private breeding programs. Ripe fruit at a uniform stage of maturity were evaluated for ANC concentration and profile in 2 consecutive years (2010 and 2011) from all plants. Total ANC ranged from 189 to 464, 74 to 421, and 227 to 537 mg/100 g (frozen fruit) in the commercial cultivars, breeding selections, and breeding populations, respectively. Significant increases in total ANC were observed among material that represents an expanded gene pool in southern highbush blueberry (introgression from V. angustifolium Ait., V. elliottii Chap., V. myrsinites Lam., V. pallidum Ait., V. tenellum Ait., V. fuscatum Ait., V. constablaei Gray, and V. arboreum Mar.). Differences in acylation and glycosylation patterns were also observed in the same material, which may condition relative stability, absorption, and bioavailability of ANC. Results suggest that the expansion of the gene base through interspecific hybridization can have both a positive and negative impact on ANC accumulation and that breeders need to be aware of these issues early in the breeding program.

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