Research Topic

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Improve Quality of Soft Fruit Berries

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Quality of fruit has to be considered a central trait to optimize fruit chain management since consumers want agricultural products that both taste good and are nutritious. In order to satisfy consumer’s demands more effort and attention has to be devoted, from a scientific and practical perspective, to ...

Quality of fruit has to be considered a central trait to optimize fruit chain management since consumers want agricultural products that both taste good and are nutritious. In order to satisfy consumer’s demands more effort and attention has to be devoted, from a scientific and practical perspective, to improve and optimize quality upon delivery to the consumers without compromising the agronomic traits that growers demand.

Quality of soft fruit berries, such as blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry, is a complex trait, which includes visual attractiveness (color, size, and shape), overall flavor (taste and texture), and the extraordinarily nutritional properties. Among these traits, texture, flavor, and appearance directly impact postharvest performance and consumer appreciation and therefore fruit marketability. Although the importance of these factors can hardly be underestimated, breeding efforts have historically been mainly oriented to improve fruit appearance and storability. However, selection for improved shelf-life and appearance properties may have unintended negative consequences on other fruit quality traits, for instance, aroma and nutritional value. Loss of aroma has already been identified throughout the breeding efforts of other fruit species, such as strawberry, peach, apple, and tomato. This quality decline can be heightened by the fact that breeding selection for flavor occurs nearly by chance (not assisted), since flavor is currently not considered as a discriminating trait in the early selection phase. This limitation is also strengthened by the complex and time-consuming phenotyping protocols ordinarily used, which makes the analytical screening of large populations plant material unfeasible.

Defining fruit quality trait priorities is challenging since trait relevance depends largely on which supply chain actor is involved in the decision-making process. In particular, understanding the stability of each quality trait during different storage and/or agronomical conditions may allow a better definition of future breeding strategies aimed, for example, at the selection of accessions suitable to improve distinct market sector performance. For this purpose, comprehensive investigations and a tight synergy of analytical approaches from different branches of knowledge are needed. The expanded use of inexpensive, high-quality, and high throughput omics techniques is expected to soon provide elucidation of the genetic and physiological regulation of fruit quality.

This Research Topic aims to collect the most recent advances on recent scientific progress concerning the quality of soft fruit berries (i.e. strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, acai, black currant, goji, and chokeberries). These studies should focus on innovative omics technologies (i.e. genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, or metagenomics) and multidisciplinary approaches of quality management throughout the entire production chain, from breeding selection to consumer consumption. Since the composition and quality of fruit is modulated at various biological levels, we especially encourage the submission of studies that integrate two or more ‘omics’ platforms, and those applying systems biology approaches. We welcome research articles, reviews, short notes, and opinion articles focused on:

- New insights into biological and physiological phenomena that affect quality and nutritional aspects of soft fruit berries (i.e. the effect of different light spectra on fruit phytochemical content; the effect of controlled stress condition on fruit quality traits, such as the VOC production; the role of fruit microbiota on ripening and storability)
- New insights on the genetic regulation of quality traits of soft fruit berries
- Development of genetic and molecular markers to assist breeding activity

Please note that descriptive studies that report responses of growth, yield or quality to agronomical treatments are not considered if they do not progress physiological understanding of these responses. Additionally, omics studies should provide at least one experimental support (e.g. in vivo or in vitro) in order to show that one, or more, candidates might indeed be involved in the biological process under analysis.


Keywords: Quality, Berries, Phenomics, Metabolomics, Genomics, Crop Management, Processing


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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