A team of researchers, led by molecular geneticist Allan Brown with North Carolina State University's Plants for Human Health Institute, has unraveled some of the genetic mysteries behind the blueberry.
They have sequenced the blueberry genome, which will help them and others better understand which genes are responsible for the health-protective natural components of the fruit, according to a news release.
The group started with a 1 milliliter test tube of DNA from a relative of the Northern Highbush blueberry.
By using two methods of gene sequencing, the team produced 500 million base pairs coding for more than 25,000 genes.
One unexpected finding were genetic similarities between blueberries and grapes.
Both fruits are coveted for their anthocyanin, pigments responsible for red, blue and purple fruit colors as well as health-protective properties.
The sequenced genome as well as identified molecular markers will help breeders be more efficient in developing new varieties.
Watch a video about the blueberry gene sequencing on YouTube.