The woodland strawberry - Fragaria vesca - is closely related to garden-variety cultivated strawberry and this berry contains large amounts of anti-oxidants (mainly tannins, the substances that give wine their astringency), as well as vitamins A, C and B12 and minerals – potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition, the strawberry fruit is rich in substances for flavor and aroma.
The length of the genome is about 240 million bases and contains around 35,000 genes. By comparison, the human genome has three billion bases but around 23,000 genes. The woodland strawberry genome is relatively short, simple and easy to manipulate, and the plant grows quickly and easily. These qualities make it an ideal model plant that might provide insight into other related agricultural crops (the rose family) including cultivated strawberries, and such fruit trees as apples peaches, cherries and almonds.
The newly sequenced genome will help scientists understand how to return the flavors and aromas that have been lost over years of breeding in the cultivated cousin of the wild strawberry.
The woodland strawberry has now joined the elite list of plants, including rice, grapes and soya, which have had their genomes sequenced, and also this week - the chocolate tree.
Citation: Vladimir Shulaev, Daniel J Sargent, Ross N Crowhurst, Todd C Mockler, Otto Folkerts, Arthur L Delcher, Pankaj Jaiswal, Keithanne Mockaitis, Aaron Liston, Shrinivasrao P Mane, Paul Burns, Thomas M Davis, Janet P Slovin, Nahla Bassil, Roger P Hellens, Clive Evans, Tim Harkins, Chinnappa Kodira, Brian Desany, Oswald R Crasta, Roderick V Jensen, Andrew C Allan, Todd P Michael, Joao Carlos Setubal, Jean-Marc Celton, et al, 'The genome of woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca)', Nature Genetics (2010) doi:10.1038/ng.740 (free to read)