Innovative technologies to accelerate industry transition from “wild” to cultivated cool climate small fruit crop production systems


Debnath, S.C., McKenzie, B.D., Bishop, G.A., Dixon P., Mills A., Anderson S. and Siow, Y.L. (2016). “Innovative technologies to accelerate industry transition from “wild” to cultivated cool climate small fruit crop production systems.”, Abstract Book, Joint Annual Conference for the Canadian Society of Agronomy and the Canadian Society for Horticultural Science, July 24-26, 2016, Montreal, QC, Canada; p. 25 (

Plain language summary

This is a conference presentation on small fruit production and protection.


Commercially important cool climate small fruit crops include, but are not limited to, blueberry (Vaccinium spp. L.), cranberry (V. macrocarpon Ait.) and lingonberry (V. vitis-idaea. L.). Consumption of Vaccinium fruits is believed to have important therapeutic values, including antitumor, antiulcer, antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities. Blueberry production systems are changing from “wild” production to a more intensive cultivated system. In this respect, there is an urgent need to develop innovative techniques for selecting and establishing high-yielding, insect tolerant blueberry crops which are well-adapted to diverse biotic and abiotic conditions in cool climates of Canada. The presentation focuses on: berry germplasm and hybrid development, characterization and improvement using in vitro and molecular techniques; sustainable crop production systems including the use of bioinoculants and organic fertilizer; and integrated pest management. Bioreactor micropropagation in a liquid medium has been developed/improved for berry crops. EST-PCR, EST- SSR and genomic SSR markers have been used for genetic diversity and structure analyses in blueberry and cranberry clones, cultivars and/or hybrids, and to monitor clonal fidelity in micropropagated small fruit crops. The total phenolic and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of blueberry tissue culture plants and of wild clones and cultivars of blueberries and cranberries were estimated. Molecular analysis has been used for the application of marker-assisted selection in blueberry and to study the DNA-methylation and epigenetic factors in blueberry micropropagules. Hybrids obtained through crossing between half-high/highbush and lowbush blueberry genotypes and between Canadian and European lingonberries are being evaluated for frost, drought and pest resistance under greenhouse and field conditions. ‘MF-1.3’ isolated from lowbush blueberry roots was identified as a strain of Penicillium decumbens Thom. which might be a potential beneficial bioinoculant. In a field trial with blueberry cultivars, black plastic mulch had a higher occurrence of flowering than other treatments.