Chile is the only country in the Southern Hemisphere that counts with a sweet cherry offer during counter-seasons. The planted surface is almost 5% in the total fruit planted area, yielding about 1,7% in the total of fruit exportations by the country. Located from Coquimbo to Aysén regions, sweet cherry plantations have productive times between November and January, with general low yields having a maximum of 5 ton/ha. Although the productive parameters make that conventional breeding in sweet cherry becomes a very attractive business, these programs are mainly focused on rootstocks development instead of using interspecific hybridizations targeted to the generation of new productive varieties. Recently, the Biofrutales Consortium has submitted to INNOVA a research proposal entitled “Programa Chileno para el Mejoramiento Genético del Cerezo” as a way to develop a strategic program in sweet cherry for the country and technically supported by the strong technical expertise of the associated institutions belonging to this group. In the same line, the present proposal is thought to supplement this sweet cherry breeding initiative, by developing genetic engineering technologies related to genetic transformation systems. Genetic transformation tools for sweet cherry are not available in Chile, and the idea of supporting breeding programs using this technology, involves candidate gene evaluation and gene expression control for both, basic and applied purposes in breeding. Facilitating of discrete changes in sweet cherry´s genome, conferring desirable traits without interfering commercial advantages of specific cultivars, will represent an important advantage of the Breeding Program in front of similar programs overseas. Technology development will offer possibilities to carry out studies focused on the behavior of candidate genes from both homologues and interspecific members in Rosaceae, adding the species P. avium to a quite reduced list of available “woody models” for gene evaluation from genomic studies in Rosaceae. The current program in genetic engineering of Prunus avium aims to develop technical capacities under the umbrella of a conventional breeding workflow, offering alternative solutions to problems such as generation of new varieties pursuing pest, disease or cold tolerances, traits estimated to be monogenic. In a long term scope, development of new varieties will include improved post-harvest shell-life and enhanced harvesting time, considered probable multigenic traits. The created technical platform will also facilitate basic knowledge acquisition derived from already occurring functional genomics efforts in the country.


Main goal:

To develop micropropagation and regeneration systems for the species (and close genotypes as rootstocks)

Specific Objectives:

•Regeneration protocols.

•Genetic transformation protocols.

•Vectors for genetic transformation.

•Evaluation of candidate genes in “model” varieties for the species.