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Science & Technology

Wild berry could become the next strawberry

By T.K. Randall
October 3, 2018 · Comment icon 22 comments

Groundcherries have a slightly sweet, tropical taste. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Theo Crazzolara
Scientists are using a gene editing technique to make the humble groundcherry a more viable fruit crop.
If you've never even heard of groundcherries then you are not alone - these small, orange, tomato-like fruits are quite difficult to grow and harvest, making them a poor choice as a mainstream crop.

This could soon be set to change however thanks to a team of scientists who have been using the CRISPR gene editing tool to make these obscure fruits a more attractive crop for farmers.

The technique makes it possible to remove undesirable traits from a crop by selectively snipping out and replacing parts of its DNA.

Other improvements, such as increasing the fruit's taste and nutritional value, can also be made.
The technique is exponentially faster at domesticating wild food crops than traditional methods.

"We're very excited about this work," said Joyce Van Eck from the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at the Boyce Thompson Institute, in Ithaca, New York.

"We can see a real-world application for this, not just for groundcherries, but for other crops as well."

If all goes to plan, you could be seeing groundcherries in your local supermarket before too long.

Source: Popular Science | Comments (22)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by aztek 6 years ago
yes, most likely it is due to strawberry popularity. good point.  they are more popular and cheaper than other berries
Comment icon #14 Posted by Piney 6 years ago
The wild strawberries here hybridized with the ornamental ones the yuppies were planting around their McMansions. They taste like  stryrofoam.   Thank god they won't let us do any controlled burning.( Like the morons out West)  and after another nice super fire ( which actually revitalizes pinelands) they won't be here anymore.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Piney 6 years ago
The purple ones grow wild around here. 
Comment icon #16 Posted by Piney 6 years ago
The guy who titled the article was clueless considering the article was about the nightshade family.
Comment icon #17 Posted by aztek 6 years ago
pretty much, too often these days we get writers who write about things they have no idea about. i'm thinking i should write a book on liberal feminism, i have no clue what that is, i'm neither liberal nor feminist, so i'm qualified, i'll call it "shades of a number 50", and i'll sue Kelly Marcel for stealing the name \ idea  from me,
Comment icon #18 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
I've never had a groundcherry.  What i found interesting about Strawberries here in the US, was most of the strawberries come from California and are grown in February! The only reason I know this is I was on a business trip to CA in Orange County.  I was expecting to see fields of oranges and instead saw fields of strawberries.  Most strawberries are picked green and start to ripen on shipping.  This is why many strawberries have no taste when they first hit the markets.  If they berries were picked at their ripest stage, they'd be mushy by the time to bought them at the supermarkets.
Comment icon #19 Posted by gargoylenest 6 years ago
thats BS. I grow them every years in quebec, and it grows very fast, very easily. Where I had one plan last year, I had around 30 this year, had to remove most of them. They grows mostly like raspberry bushes, but die in winter, then grow again rapidly from forgotten ground cherry to become another bush up to 4ft in height. They are very hardy fruits and plan that resist most insects and sickness. I can usually get around 200-300 berry from a normal sized plan (organic, no pesticide).   They are sweat and are awesome in a jam, or just raw. If those scientist wants to make them grow, just m... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by rashore 6 years ago
What you describe and what I've experienced is kind of what makes ground cherries not so desirable for commercial growing. The wild and greatly indeterminate growth habit is primary. For a smaller farmstand or home grower/gatherer not such a big deal- but to make them as available and at a price point to compare them to strawberries it's a very big deal. I poked around in a few more articles and it seems that the indeterminate nature is indeed the first thing the CRISPR is being applied to. Making the plant more determinate helps make the plant more commercially manageable. And also the effect... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by HollyDolly 6 years ago
They also grow strawberries in Poteet,Texas south of san Antonio.They have a strawberry festival every year. Haven't seen ground cherries around here growing wild, but then I don't know what the flowers look like either.I have seen them in some seed catalogs. Baker Creek Farms has a seed catalog.Think they have them, plus some really interesting veggies. They even have a watermelon that has white flesh.
Comment icon #22 Posted by HollyDolly 6 years ago
Looked them up.They do grow in Texas and are a member of the nightshade family according to the website, Foraging Texas. I recognized the flower. We also have a round here a plant, same flower, only it's purple , and that also has a yellow berry. BUT I don't know if you can eat it.

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