GINs are Genetic Improvement Networks that provide a key link between industry and academia to ensure that genetic research addresses the needs of the industry, and tackles some of the longer-term issues through breeding efforts. A recent article in the ‘Crop Production Magazine’ (Oct 2021) suggested, “while the problems facing growers may make it tempting to reach for the ‘gin’, plant breeders are finding that GINS are actually providing the answer”!
Defra has supported GINs in a range of crops, but there is currently no GIN in place that addresses the needs of the soft fruit industry. Therefore, the recent announcement that Defra has funded NIAB and JHI to scope out a business case for the establishment of a Soft Fruit Genetic Improvement Network has been widely welcomed.
A Soft Fruit GIN will enable a coordinated research approach to pre-breeding genetics of key traits and new breeding tools in a range of soft-fruit crops.
Co-ordinated research will include the development and deployment of molecular markers for pest and disease resistance, high throughput phenotyping and genotyping, accurate predictive models for gene function (and epistasis), and the use of gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 for germplasm development. This coordinated approach will benefit private and public breeding programs by generating new knowledge and tools to speed up breeding, which in turn will provide growers with new varieties that have better fruit quality traits, and more importantly, can be grown more sustainably.
As part of the scoping study, NIAB and JHI are conducting an industry survey and are encouraging members of the soft fruit industry to complete a short, online questionnaire that will provide information that will help to determine the case for a Soft Fruit GIN.
The survey, which is open until 31st October, and which only takes 5-10 mins to complete, and can be found here.
The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler Aberdeen AB15 8QH Scotland
Invergowrie Dundee DD2 5DA Scotland
+44 (0)344 928 5428