Improving fruit cultivars online

Database houses genomic, genetic, and breeding information to help tree fruit growers

Washington, of course, is famous for its apples. Together with citrus, apples and related tree fruits comprise a $12.7 billion industry in the U.S. Staying ahead of diseases and pests, not to mention the search for the perfect combination of productivity and flavor, makes constant improvement a necessity.

WSU researcher Doreen Main, along with a team of fellow horticulture scientists, has created an online database to help growers around the world address these challenges.

The tree fruit Genome Database Resource is the world’s first central repository for citrus genomics and genetics data. All told, it provides genomic, genetic, and breeding resources for 22 major horticultural crops. It also provides a plethora of software tools and bioinformatics resources to scientists who need genetic data to improve fruit varieties.

Dr. Main and her WSU collaborators built the website together with researchers at Clemson University, University of Florida, the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, and North Carolina State University. Funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, and the Citrus Research and Development Foundation backed the project.

Next up: the Grower’s Toolbox, an online resource of weather, soil, and environmental conditions, which will help fruit growers around the world choose the best varieties for their growing conditions.