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Concept: Ericaceae


Blueberries are one of the few horticultural crops adapted to grow in acidic soils. Neutral to basic soil pH is detrimental to all commonly cultivated blueberry species, including Vaccinium corymbosum (VC). In contrast, the wild species V. arboreum (VA) is able to tolerate a wider range of soil pH. To assess the molecular mechanisms involved in near neutral pH stress response, plants from pH-sensitive VC (tetraploid) and pH-tolerant VA (diploid) were grown at near neutral pH 6.5 and at the preferred pH of 4.5.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Molecular biology, Organism, Vaccinium, Blueberry, Ericaceae


The Vaccinium genus contains several valuable fruit and ornamental species, among others: highbush blueberry (Vaccinium × corymbosum L.), cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.), and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.). In some most popular and valuable cultivars, the conventional propagation methods, exploiting hard or soft wood cuttings, are inefficient. The demand for nursery plants could be fulfilled only by micropropagation. In principle cultivars are propagated in vitro through similar three-stage method, based on subculture of shoot explants on different culture media supplemented with IAA (0-4 mg/L) and 2iP (5-10 mg/L), and rooting shoots in vivo. The obtained plantlets are transferred to peat substrate and grown in the glasshouse until the end of growing period. The development of adventitious shoots should be monitored and controlled during in vitro stages. Many clones have specific requirements for growing conditions and/or are recalcitrant.

Concepts: In vitro, Propagation, Cranberry, Vaccinium, Plant propagation, Blueberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Ericaceae


Gaultheria, a genus belonging to the Ericaceae family, is typically a shrub that produces berries, and closely resembles the blueberry genus Vaccinium. Gaultheria species are used worldwide especially as food and medicine in China. Certain Gaultheria species are biologically active, as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and cytotoxic agents. Through literatures searches and field surveys, the results of ethnobotanical uses, especially in China, as well as in vitro and in vivo studies are reviewed critically. This review examines the chemistry and bioactivity of this under-studied plant genus, and thus lays the groundwork for its future development for human health.

Concepts: Species, In vivo, Botany, Anthropology, Genus, Cranberry, Vaccinium, Ericaceae


Targeted high-throughput sequencing using hybrid-enrichment offers a promising source of data for inferring multiple, meaningfully resolved, independent gene trees suitable to address challenging phylogenetic problems in species complexes and rapid radiations. The targets in question can either be adopted directly from more or less universal tools, or custom made for particular clades at considerably greater effort. We applied custom made scripts to select sets of homologous sequence markers from transcriptome and WGS data for use in the flowering plant genus Erica (Ericaceae). We compared the resulting targets to those that would be selected both using different available tools (Hyb-Seq; MarkerMiner), and when optimising for broader clades of more distantly related taxa (Ericales; eudicots). Approaches comparing more divergent genomes (including MarkerMiner, irrespective of input data) delivered fewer and shorter potential markers than those targeted for Erica. The latter may nevertheless be effective for sequence capture across the wider family Ericaceae. We tested the targets delivered by our scripts by obtaining an empirical dataset. The resulting sequence variation was lower than that of standard nuclear ribosomal markers (that in Erica fail to deliver a well resolved gene tree), confirming the importance of maximising the lengths of individual markers. We conclude that rather than searching for “one size fits all” universal markers, we should improve and make more accessible the tools necessary for developing “made to measure” ones.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Biology, RNA, Phylogenetic nomenclature, Cladistics, Ericaceae, Erica


Cultivated blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum, Vaccinium angustifolium, Vaccinium darrowii, and Vaccinium virgatum) is an economically important fruit crop native to North America and a member of the Ericaceae family. Several species in the Ericaceae family including cranberry, lignonberry, bilberry, and neotropical blueberry species have been shown to produce iridoids, a class of pharmacologically important compounds present in over 15 plant families demonstrated to have a wide range of biological activities in humans including anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory. While the antioxidant capacity of cultivated blueberry has been well studied, surveys of iridoid production in blueberry have been restricted to fruit of a very limited number of accessions of V. corymbosum, V. angustifolium and V. virgatum; none of these analyses have detected iridoids. To provide a broader survey of iridoid biosynthesis in cultivated blueberry, we constructed a panel of 84 accessions representing a wide range of cultivated market classes, as well as wild blueberry species, and surveyed these for the presence of iridoids. We identified the iridoid glycoside monotropein in fruits and leaves of all 13 wild Vaccinium species, yet only five of the 71 cultivars. Monotropein positive cultivars all had recent introgressions from wild species, suggesting that iridoid production can be targeted through breeding efforts that incorporate wild germplasm. A series of diverse developmental tissues was also surveyed in the diversity panel, demonstrating a wide range in iridoid content across tissues. Taken together, this data provides the foundation to dissect the molecular and genetic basis of iridoid production in blueberry.

Concepts: Agriculture, Fruit, Cranberry, Bilberry, Vaccinium, Blueberry, Ericaceae, Vaccinium darrowii


The American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) is one of only three widely-cultivated fruit crops native to North America- the other two are blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) and native grape (Vitis spp.). In terms of taxonomy, cranberries are in the core Ericales, an order for which genome sequence data are currently lacking. In addition, cranberries produce a host of important polyphenolic secondary compounds, some of which are beneficial to human health. Whereas next-generation sequencing technology is allowing the advancement of whole-genome sequencing, one major obstacle to the successful assembly from short-read sequence data of complex diploid (and higher ploidy) organisms is heterozygosity. Cranberry has the advantage of being diploid (2n = 2x = 24) and self-fertile. To minimize the issue of heterozygosity, we sequenced the genome of a fifth-generation inbred genotype (F >= 0.97) derived from five generations of selfing originating from the cultivar Ben Lear.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cranberry, Vaccinium, Blueberry, Ericaceae, Ericales


A sensitive and specific high-performance liquid chromatography?quadrupole?time-of-flight mass spec-trometry (LC-Q-TOF-MS) method combined with liquid chromatography?tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was developed for the determination of grayanotoxins I and III in dietary supplements and homemade wine. Grayanotoxins I and III were successfully extracted using solid-phase extraction cartridges, characterized by LC-Q-TOF-MS, and quantified by LC-MS/MS. The LC-MS/MS calibration curves were linear over concentrations of 10?100 ng mL?1 (grayanotoxin I) and 20?400 ng mL?1 (grayanotoxin III). Grayanotoxins I and III were found in 51 foodstuffs, with quantitative determina-tions revealing total toxin concentrations of 18.4?1010001 ng mL?1 (grayanotoxin I) and 15.3?56000 ng mL?1 (grayanotoxin III). The potential of the validated method was demonstrated by successful quanti-tative analysis of grayanotoxins I and III in dietary supplements and homemade wine; the method ap-pears suitable for the routine detection of grayanotoxins I and III from Rhododendron brachycarpum.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Method acting, Analytical chemistry, Extraction, Rhododendron, Grayanotoxin, Ericaceae, Rhododendron luteum


Microsatellite markers were developed for population genetic analysis in the rare shrub Styphelia longissima (Ericaceae).

Concepts: Genetics, Biology, Endangered species, Critically endangered species, Microsatellite, Ericaceae


Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) and blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) juices are commonly consumed as a source of antioxidants. The aim of this study was to compare bioactivities as well as the differences in the polyphenol content and anthocyanin profile of both juices. Polyphenol and anthocyanin contents were quantified using spectrophotometric and chromatographic methods. Bioassays were carried out in terms of antioxidant properties in cell and cell free systems as well as inhibition of physiological enzymes that are targets involved in the prevention of chronic diseases (monoamine oxidase A, tyrosinase, acetylcholinesterase, α-glucosidase and dipeptidyl peptidase-4). Both juices contained a significant amount of anthocyanins (3.909 mg anthocyanins per mg extract for blueberry juice and 0.398 for cranberry juice) and also exhibited antioxidant properties against DPPH, superoxide radicals and hydrogen peroxide. These juices showed inhibitory effects on the enzymes, showing substantial potential as antioxidant, neuroprotective and anti-hyperglycaemic agents. The total anthocyanin and polyphenol content was higher in blueberry juice, which is indicative of a higher antioxidant activity. Both juices were also able to inhibit monoamine oxidase A, tyrosinase, α-glucosidase and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 in a dose-dependent manner. However, cranberry juice had a greater capacity than blueberry juice as an α-glucosidase inhibitor, revealing a similar activity to acarbose.

Concepts: Antioxidant, Vitamin C, Polyphenol antioxidant, Cranberry, Bilberry, Vaccinium, Blueberry, Ericaceae


American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is native to Eastern North America. Recent studies have suggested that the A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries are effective in preventing urinary tract infection. To meet the growing interest in the cranberry market, an accurate, reliable, and simple method to determine PAC concentration is needed. In this study, a modified method using 4-dimethylaminocinnamaldehyde to quantify total PACs in cranberry products was validated. Cranberry juice extract powder, cranberry capsules containing juice extract, and cranberry juice concentrate were used as the samples in this study. With the modified method, the calibration curves for proanthocyanidin A2 had correlation coefficients (r²) of >0.99. The recoveries of two different concentrations after spiking were 97.1 and 99.1%, and the RSDs for repeatability and reproducibility were <2.7 and <1.6%, respectively.

Concepts: Urinary tract infection, Tannin, Massachusetts, Cranberry, Vaccinium, Blueberry, Ericaceae