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Preliminary evaluation of fruit traits and phytochemicals in a highbush blueberry seedling population


BACKGROUND: The fruit quality traits and the phytochemical content of blueberries are of increasing importance to researchers in the field of food and health and important breeding objectives. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to gain preliminary information on parent's performances and variation of the fruit traits and phytochemicals from a small breeding population. METHODS: The breeding population was from a 3 × 4 factorial mating design, 120 seedlings in total. The fruit traits evaluated were weight, colour, pedicel scar size and firmness and the phytochemical composition included the total anthocyanin and phenolic contents and total antioxidant activity. RESULTS: Variation was found for all the traits studied in all families, with low genetic correlations between fruit traits, high correlations between phytochemicals and negative correlations between fruit weight and phytochemicals. CONCLUSIONS: Breeding population size was small and the lack of replication has influenced the statistical approach. From our observations we found ‘Hortblue Petite’ potentially an excellent parent for phytochemical traits.