Newsletter | Issue 2 | May 2021
Welcome to the latest issue of the Vaccinium Coordinated Agricultural Project (VacCAP) Newsletter.

VacCAP is a nationwide project aimed at developing new genetic tools to enhance breeding for improved fruit quality of cranberries and blueberries. Long term, the scientific resources developed will increase production of fruit with improved characteristics that meet ever-changing industry, market, and consumer preferences.

There is also a PDF version available with additional information. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and YouTube to stay updated on all the latest VacCAP news.
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Fresh Features

Buying Better Berries: What Does Fruit Quality Mean to Consumers?

While VacCAP team members are working to improve cranberries and blueberries, one question is prominent: will consumers actually buy them? That’s what Dr. Karina Gallardo, Co-PD and Professor at Washington State University, and Dr. Elizabeth Canales, Co-PI and Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University, are trying to find out.

Canales and Gallardo’s roles in VacCAP are to analyze the socio-economic aspects of improving fruit quality of blueberries and cranberries. They will contribute to the VacCAP project goals by examining consumers’ perceptions of different fruit attributes, and their willingness to pay for those attributes. 

“Our goal is to investigate consumer preferences as they relate to fruit quality, and the economic impact of their choices for the blueberry and cranberry industries” Canales said. “Once we know what the consumer wants, we can pass that information to the scientists to improve those fruit attributes.” Read more here.

Fruit Quality: An Industry Perspective

When you hear the term “fruit quality”, what comes to mind? Quality is often a subjective term. Fruit quality may mean something different to everyone—especially a breeder, a grower, industry member, or a consumer. We spoke to Rod Serres, Senior Manager of Agricultural Sciences at Ocean Spray, and Brian Bocock, Vice President of Product Management at Naturipe Farms, about the industry perspective on cranberry and blueberry fruit quality, respectively.  Read more here.

Piecing Together the Cranberry Genome Puzzle

Over the last decade, Dr. Juan Zalapa has been working on a puzzle—a 500-million-piece one. Zalapa and others in his team—such as Luis Diaz-Garcia—is working to assemble the ‘Stevens’ cranberry genome in order to identify which genes control what traits in cranberry cultivars. 

“Cranberries have 12 chromosomes. So, one of the things that we need to do for sequencing is to decipher the genetic code (bases) of those 12 chromosomes,” Zalapa said “When you do any kind of genetic sequencing, you can't get a single piece sequence for a whole chromosome. There are 500 million bases of chromosome sequence—divided into 12 chromosomes roughly, it could be 50 million bases per chromosome. And assembling this is like putting together a puzzle.” Learn more here.

VacCAP for All

Welcome to VacCAP for All. Here you can find a collection of VacCAP research summarized into accessible, everyday language. Check out our first article in the series A Low Malic Acid Trait in Cranberry Fruit: Genetics, Molecular Mapping, and Interaction With a Citric Acid Locus.

Coordinated Effort to Improve Blueberry Genetics

Be sure to tune into the January 21, 2021 episode of “The Business of Blueberries’’ podcast to hear VacCAP team members discuss the project and research. You can listen on the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council website or on major platforms Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. Listen here.
Editors: Josie Russo, Amaya Atucha, Lisa Wasko DeVetter, and Massimo Iorizzo
VacCAP Contact

Josie Russo
Communication Specialist

Amaya Atucha

Lisa Wasko DeVetter

Massimo Iorizzo
Project Director
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