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Designer Strawberries

omics in commercial strawberry. The rapid growth of new shoots, the high number of seeds generated and the ease in which new plants may be established, make this plant an ideal candidate as a platform for large-scale studies to elucidate gene function.

The new protocol involves taking strawberry plant tissue from its original site and transferring it to an artificial medium for growth or maintenance. Here unfolded leaves, known as trifoliate leaves, are able to grow. When collected at 6-7 weeks after seed germination, these leaves are highly amenable to gene transfer using A. tumefaciens. Since they glow green under fluorescent light due to the presence of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), transformed strawberry plants may be easily identified by visual inspection. This is the first time that GFP has been used in strawberry as a visually selectable marker.

Commenting on the research, VBI Professor Vladimir Shulaev, one of the authors of the study, remarked: "The development of this protocol for strawberry represents a key milestone for researchers interested in improving strawberry and other fruit crops through genomics." He added: "We are now in a position to generate a collection of mutants that will serve as an invaluable tool not only for discovering new genes in the Rosaceae family but also for establishing the functions of these genes through high-throughput screening methods."

The electronic preprint of this article entitled "High-efficiency transformation of the diploid strawberry (Fragaria vesca) for functional genomics" (Planta, 2005, Dec 1:1-12) is available online at www.springerlink.com/openurl.asp?genre=article&id=doi:10.1007/s00425-005-0170-3 [Epub ahead of print].

The work was funded by a Virginia Tech ASPIRES grant (A Support Program for Innovative Research Strategies). Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech has a research platform centered on understanding the "disease triangle" of host-p
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