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Rubus breeding

Photograph of Glen Fyne raspberries bred at the Institute
The most popular cultivar in the UK, 'Glen Ample', was released from the Institute programme in the 1990s.

Raspberry breeding at the Institute was established in the 1950s and has produced a range of commercially successful cultivars, from the initial 'Glen Clova' to the latest 'Glen Dee'.

The programme was initially aimed at producing cultivars for the Scottish processing industry but changes in the market led to the industry in Scotland and the rest of the UK focusing predominantly on the fresh market. The objectives of the programme are now mainly related to the latter market, such as shelf-life and sensory characters. The most popular cultivar in the UK, 'Glen Ample', was released from the Institute programme in the 1990s.

The breeding programme maintains a broad germplasm base to meet the rapidly changing requirements of the UK raspberry industry. Machine harvestable types for processing are still under development but the primary focus is on the selection of cultivars suitable for production under protected cropping systems. The identification of germplasm suitable for season extension under tunnels is also part of the programme.

Figure 1: Raspberry plots grown undercover in polytunnels at the James Hutton Institute

Figure 1: Raspberry plots grown undercover in polytunnels at the James Hutton Institute.

A key objective is to incorporate resistance/tolerance to pest and disease and make cultivars suitable for growing under integrated systems. The main disease problem in raspberry is root rot caused by Phytophthora fragariae var. rubi, which can cause catastrophic loss of crop and plantation (Jennings et al. 2003). Currently, there are few existing resistant varieties with acceptable fruit quality or yield, so a major part of the programme is targeted towards the development of resistant cultivars with commercially acceptable agronomic and quality traits.

Future breeding plans with respect to Phytophthora resistance are underpinned by the development of molecular markers to improve and accelerate selection efficiencies.

Progeny from a cross between cv. Latham (resistant) and cv. Glen Moy (susceptible)

Figure 2: Progeny from a cross between cv. Latham (resistant) and cv. Glen Moy (susceptible) grown in field soil containing inoculum of Phytophthera fragariae var. rubi. Some plants are highly resistant (left), while susceptible plants (right) are killed.

The large raspberry aphid (Amphorophora idaei) is the vector for four major raspberry viruses and the programme is currently using resistance based on the gene A10. This confers resistance to four biotypes of the pest, although resistance-breaking biotypes are now reported. New sources of aphid resistance are therefore being sought for the future breeding of resistant cultivars.

Considerable research effort is placed on the development of markers linked to traits of interest in raspberry, notably resistance to root rot and quality-related traits (Graham, Hein et al. 2004). The first linkage map of raspberry was published by the group in 2004 (Graham, Smith et al. 2004) and further enhancement of the map is in progress.

Currently, the funding for the breeding programme comes from the Scottish Raspberry Breeding Consortium, consisting of thirteen members from all sectors of the industry, including growers, propagators and marketing groups, with underpinning funding from RESAS, Scottish Government.

Contact: Nikki Jennings


The blackberry breeding programme at the James Hutton Institute/Mylnefield Research Services has produced commercially successful cultivars, including `Loch Ness’, which is grown across Europe and North America. The programme is aimed at developing thorn-free, early season types for the commercial and amateur markets and other releases are `Loch Tay’ and the most recent `Loch Maree’. New germplasm has been brought into the programme to broaden the genetic base and further releases are planned for the future.

Released by the Institute in the 1970s, 'Tayberry' is a hybrid between a tetraploid raspberry and 'Aurora' blackberry, and has proved a worldwide commercial success. The Institute and Mylnefield Research Services are now looking to produce further hybrid berries, with improved habit and agronomic traits.

Figure 3: Loch Maree blackberry

Figure 3: Loch Maree blackberry


Graham, J., Hein, I., Russell, J., Woodhead, M., Gordon, S.C., Smith, K., Jorgensen, L., Brennan, R. and Powell, W. 2004. The use of genomics technologies in contemporary Rubus and Ribes breeding programmes. Acta Horticulturae 649, 319-322.

Graham, J., Smith, K., MacKenzie, K., Jorgensen, L., Hackett, C. and Powell, W. 2004. The construction of a genetic linkage map of red raspberry (Rubus idaeus subsp. idaeus) based on AFLPs, genomic-SSR and EST-SSR markers. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 109, 740-749.

Jennings, S.N., Brennan, R. and Gordon, S.C. 2003. Commercial breeding for pest and disease resistance in cane and bush fruits. IOBC/wprs Bulletin 26, 67.


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.