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Omer Hoke, Benjamin Campbell, Mark Brand and Thao Hau

Consumption of berries has increased significantly over the past couple of years. As such, producers and retailers are experimenting with new berry varieties to capture market share and increase their profitability. We examine consumer preference and willingness to pay (WTP) for a relatively new-to-market berry (aronia: Aronia mitschurinii Skvortsov et Maitulina) compared with another relatively new berry (black currant: Ribes nigrum L.) as well as more traditional (raspberry: Rubus idaeus L., blueberry: Vaccinium corymbosum L., and blackberry: Rubus fruticosus L.) berries. Given that aronia berries have an astringent/bitter flavor while having high antioxidant levels we investigate how taste and health information impact preference and WTP. Furthermore, we add to the literature by investigating the differences in WTP for locally and nonlocally (regional, the United States, and outside the United States) labeled berries across varying retail outlets (i.e., farmer’s markets, farm stands, grocery store). We find that new berries (aronia and black currant) are heavily discounted compared with more traditional berries. Potentially negative taste information (i.e., astringent/bitter flavor) has a negative impact on WTP, whereas positive health information has a positive impact on WTP. The positive effect of health information tends to offset the impact of the negative taste information. With respect to local labeling and retail outlet, locally labeled berries at a farmer’s market and farm stand have WTP values similar to locally labeled berries at a grocery store. On the other hand, nonlocally labeled berries sold at a grocery store were discounted compared with locally labeled berries at a grocery store.

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Jonathan D. Mahoney, Thao M. Hau, Bryan A. Connolly and Mark H. Brand

The genus Aronia Medik., also known as chokeberry, is a group of deciduous shrubs in the Rosaceae family, subtribe Pyrinae. The four commonly accepted species include A. arbutifolia (L.) Pers., red chokeberry; A. melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott, black chokeberry; A. prunifolia (Marshall) Reheder, purple chokeberry; and A. mitschurinii (A.K. Skvortsov & Maitul). Wild and domesticated Aronia species are found as diploids, triploids, and tetraploids. Genetic improvement of polyploid Aronia genotypes has been limited by suspected apomixis, which may be widespread or distinct to tetraploids. The objectives of this study were to elucidate the reproductive mechanisms of Aronia species and reveal the occurrence of apomixis within the genus and along ploidy lines. Twenty-nine Aronia accessions [five A. melanocarpa (2×), five A. melanocarpa (4×), eight A. prunifolia (3×), four A. prunifolia (4×), six A. arbutifolia (4×), and one A. mitschurinii (4×)] were used in this study. Intra-accession variability was evaluated by growing out progeny from each open-pollinated maternal accession and comparing plant phenotypes, ploidy levels, and amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) marker profiles between the progeny and maternal accession. Progeny of diploid and tetraploid maternal plants had ploidy levels identical to maternal plants, except for UC009 (A. melanocarpa, 2×) which produced a mix of diploids and tetraploids. UC143 and UC149 (A. prunifolia, 3×) produced all triploid offspring, whereas all other triploid accessions produced offspring with variable ploidy levels including 2×, 3×, 4×, and 5×. Pentaploid Aronia has not been previously reported. Diploid accessions produced significant AFLP genetic variation (0.68–0.78 Jaccard’s similarity coefficient) in progeny, which is indicative of sexual reproduction. Seedlings from tetraploid accessions had very little AFLP genetic variation (0.93–0.98 Jaccard’s similarity coefficient) in comparison with their maternal accession. The very limited genetic variation suggests the occurrence of limited diplosporous apomixis with one round of meiotic division in tetraploid progeny. Triploid accessions appear to reproduce sexually or apomictically, or both, depending on the individual. These results support our understanding of Aronia reproductive mechanisms and will help guide future breeding efforts of polyploid Aronia species.