Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and ... groundcherries? A little-known fruit about the size of a marble could become agriculture's next big berry crop. To prepare the groundcherry (Physalis pruinosa) for mainstream farming, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Zachary Lippman, Joyce Van Eck at the Boyce Thompson Institute, and colleagues combined genomics and gene editing to rapidly improve traits such as fruit size, plant shape, and flower production. Their results show that it's possible to take a plant that's practically wild and bring it close to domestication in a matter of years. The team describes their work, a shortcut around traditional breeding techniques, October 1, 2018, in the journal Nature Plants. "I firmly believe that with the right approach, the groundcherry could become a major berry crop," says Lippman, a plant scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Some scientists might consider the idea a reach, he adds. "But I think we're now at a place where the technology allows us to reach."
(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com)