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Anthocyanin composition and content of blueberries from around the world


Background: The phytochemical content of blueberries, particularly anthocyanins and other polyphenols is of increasing importance to researchers in the field of food and health, because they are thought to be largely responsible for the health benefits of this popular fruit. Objective: To determine the potential for selective breeding of blueberries to produce high-polyphenol and particularly, high anthocyanin cultivars, while retaining desirable traits such as high yield, disease-resistance and large fruit. Methods: Comparison of content data for the anthocyanin and polyphenol classes of phytochemicals, in blueberries, between a comprehensive collection of literature reports and data from the New Zealand blueberry breeding programme. Results: There was a wide range of variation in anthocyanin and total polyphenol content both between cultivars in a given growing region and within the same cultivar, when grown in different regions. Experience from the New Zealand breeding programme suggests that selection based on critical agronomic traits, such as yield, or fruit size, but not including anthocyanin content, tends towards a marked reduction in this trait. Conclusions: There is potential to selectively breed cultivars with high anthocyanin content, but it appears that this trait must be included in the selection parameters, if it is to be maintained or enhanced.