An international consortium has designed FruitBreedomics, an ambitious research project which aims to improve and make use of the latest methodologies, technologies and knowledge to improve the efficiency of current fruit breeding programmes. Its strategic aim is to bridge the existing gap between molecular genetic research and breeding. It will focus primarily on apple and peach, two major fruits in Europe, but many tools and much knowledge gained will also be of benefit to other species of the Rosaceae family via the strong genomic and functional ancestral relatedness among these species.
A major breeding tool to be developed is a validated pipeline for Marker Assisted Breeding and its implementation in ongoing commercial breeding programs. FruitBreedomics will prepare for and make available to the consortium selected pre-breeding material. It will also evaluate a way to reduce the introgression time of new traits from wild species to pre-breeding material with advanced fruit quality by inducing early flowering thanks to fast-breeding technology (Flachowsky et al., 2009).
The research efforts will be directed to improve our understanding of the genetics of some major horticultural traits and develop innovative research tools to efficiently find marker trait associations in breeding and genebank germplasm. To overcome the main issues of the past genetic studies on fruit trees (narrow genetic diversity, low mapping density, single environment), FruitBreedomics will focus on two innovative and complementary genetic mapping approaches based on a wider genetic diversity: i) pedigree-based analysis (PBA) and ii) Linkage disequilibrium (LD) mapping over the whole genome, i.e. genome-wide association (GWA) mapping.
Additionally, the project aims at increasing the accessibility of breeders to the genetic diversity present in germplasm collections, thus contributing to widening the genetic basis of cultivated fruit trees. To implement the scientific approach, FruitBreedomics will be built on two research pillars ( “the European Breeding Platform” and the Diversity and QTL mapping pillar), one research workpackage (new traits knowledge), one support pillar (tool and data management)” .
FruitBreedomics has been accepted by the European Commission in the frame of the seventh Framework Programme. It will start in March 2011 and end in 2015. It regroups 24 participants including four non EU countries.