Soft Fruit Genetics and Pathology

Work Package 1.3 Soft Fruit Genetics and Pathology

Soft fruit production in Scotland supplies to niche, high value markets. The UK market is valued at £52 million a year and is increasing in size. Raspberries are thought to be beneficial for human health and efforts to improve the nutritional quality of raspberries align closely with other policies to improve the health of Scotland’s people.

There are also opportunities for Scotland to exploit unique soft fruit germplasm and develop improved germplasm to feed into the RERAD and other raspberry breeding programmes.

This work package aims to deliver improved soft fruit products to capture market share and play a role in improving health in Scotland through better nutritional quality of soft fruit.

Required outputs

  • Characterisation and evaluation of germplasm collections which focuses on plant health improvement, improvement of the environment, sustainable agriculture and market needs including the needs of relevant export markets.
  • The production of certified soft fruit nuclear stock and the development of new and improved raspberry cultivars to meet the needs of a vibrant and innovative UK industry.
  • Identification of tools (genes, markers, bioinformatics, knowledge) to allow breeders to select crop varieties suitable for future Scottish climates.
  • Increased emphasis on developing crops with enhanced nutritional quality.
  • Improved understanding of factors contributing towards product quality including the identification of markers for key traits and genes of use by breeders.
  • Explore the potential for extended season (early and late cropping): Science to deliver raspberry cultivars suitable for growth under protective cropping.
  • Development of improved aphid resistance and raspberry root rot Phytophthora fragaria var rubi resistance in raspberry.
  • Knowledge transfer on best practice for crop health (in association with external funding).
  • Development of crop protection strategies for key pests and diseases affecting Scottish crops, which lead to a reduction in pesticide use.
  • Information on host resistance and susceptibility to key diseases affecting Scottish crops which will lead to the development of durable resistance in the field.
  • Development of appropriate sampling strategies, of field-based diagnostics and of validated multiplexed diagnostics for key pests and diseases, for use by industry and/or government.
  • Consideration of the impact of climate change on crop health in Scotland and the identification of future plant health risks.


Examples for progress towards the outputs in the soft fruit genetics and pathology work package include:

  • new tests for Phytophthora and Blackcurrant Reversion Virus are being enhanced to overcome sensitivity and reproducibility problems
  • development of DNA-based markers to track important traits during the breeding process is in progress
  • an expanded range of raspberry material has been assessed for the selection of specifically-adapted types for growth cycle manipulation and extension of the cropping season
  • several pests and pathogens for controlling aphids in polytunnels have been identified
  • a set of tools has been developed to control key pests with minimal pesticide inputs.

A full report of progress can be found below.