Genomic Informed Breeding Strategies for Strawberry Yield and Fruit Quality Traits

Helen M. Cockerton*, Amanda Karlström, Abigail W. Johnson, Bo Li, Eleftheria Stavridou, Katie J. Hopson, Adam B. Whitehouse, Richard J. Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last two centuries, breeders have drastically modified the fruit quality of strawberries through artificial selection. However, there remains significant variation in quality across germplasm with scope for further improvements to be made. We reported extensive phenotyping of fruit quality and yield traits in a multi-parental strawberry population to allow genomic prediction and quantitative trait nucleotide (QTN) identification, thereby enabling the description of genetic architecture to inform the efficacy of implementing advanced breeding strategies. A negative relationship (r = −0.21) between total soluble sugar content and class one yield was identified, indicating a trade-off between these two essential traits. This result highlighted an established dilemma for strawberry breeders and a need to uncouple the relationship, particularly under June-bearing, protected production systems comparable to this study. A large effect of quantitative trait nucleotide was associated with perceived acidity and pH whereas multiple loci were associated with firmness. Therefore, we recommended the implementation of both marker assisted selection (MAS) and genomic prediction to capture the observed variation respectively. Furthermore, we identified a large effect locus associated with a 10% increase in the number of class one fruit and a further 10 QTN which, when combined, are associated with a 27% increase in the number of marketable strawberries. Ultimately, our results suggested that the best method to improve strawberry yield is through selecting parental lines based upon the number of marketable fruits produced per plant. Not only were strawberry number metrics less influenced by environmental fluctuations, but they had a larger additive genetic component when compared with mass traits. As such, selecting using “number” traits should lead to faster genetic gain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number724847
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • achene
  • acidity
  • breeding
  • flavour
  • genomic prediction
  • organoleptic
  • QTL mapping
  • yield


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