Microsatellite genetic markers developed by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are being used for various berry research purposes including enlarging genetic maps, identifying berry cultivars, and establishing relationships between berry varieties.
Microsatellites are collections of short, repetitive, non-coding DNA sequences that can be used to compare species and varieties. Useful microsatellites show considerable sequence variation among individuals. This variation can be used to track genetic diversity and greatly accelerate breeding for improved agronomic quality and nutritional traits.
In a study partially supported by the Northwest Center for Small Fruit Research, ARS geneticists Nahla Bassil and Jeannine Rowland worked together to generate several DNA sequences for blueberries. The scientists developed microsatellite genetic markers from those DNA sequences, and established that these markers could be used to identify not only blueberry varieties, but cranberry and rhododendron varieties as well.