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CURRANTS

Authors:
  • RHRTS Dhaulakuan
  • ICAR-Central Agroforestry Research Institute, Jhansi Uttar Pradesh
CURRANTS
GirishSharma,SumanLataand AshokYadav
1. INTRODUCTION
Currants, a fruit with a  long a nd
interestinghistory, areattractingalotof
attention of late, providing another
example of how “whats old is new
again”. This genus contains about 150
species,groupedintocategoriesincluding
the red and white currants, the black
currants, ornamental currants, golden
currants, and gooseberries. Within
individualspecies,thereare manycultivars
thathavebeendevelopedovertheyears,
makingthisatrulyexpansiveplantgroup.
Currants are low growing shrubs
medium sized usually withlobed leaves,
flowers small insignificant greenish or
reddish;appearinspringwithleaves,but
insomespeciestheyarebrightlycoloured
withvaryingshadesofyellow,red,orangeorscarlet.Fruitalsoexhibitvariationincolour
andattractioninvaryingshadesofgreenishor yellowish,black, purpleorredincolour.
Althoughcurrantsexhibitvariationinfruit colour, blackandredcurrantsby far are
moreimportant.Blackcurrant isarichsourceofvitaminsandminerals,richincatechin
content , the vitamin C varies between 180 to 240 mg per 100 g of fruit while in red
currantsitismuchlower(3040mg).Blackcurrantsalsocontainbioflavonoidwhichare
vasopressor agents (reduce blood pressure). Likewise total amino acids are higher in
white currants while red currants are richest source of glutamine acid. Despite having
abundanceofnutritioningredients,theblackcurrantsarenotpreferredasdessertfor its
8
CHAPTER
CONTENTS
1. Introduction...............................................255
2. Domestication ............................................256
3. Taxonomy ...................................................256
4. CentersofDiversity ...................................257
5. ObjectivesofImprovement ....................... 258
6. Cytogenetic................................................260
7. InheritancePattern .................................... 260
8. ProblemsinBreeding ................................262
9. FloralBiology .............................................263
10. DifferentSpecies ....................................... 264
11. CropImprovementMethods......................266
12. Cultivars.................................................... 275
13. FutureThrust ............................................. 279
256 | TemperateF ruitCrop  Breeding:Dom estication to CultivarDevelopment
strongflavour.Thefruitismainlyprocessedintovariousproductslikejam,jellies,pie,and
liquor besides preparation of juice.
2. DOMESTICATION
In Europe, red currants have been gathered and grown since the 1400s for food and
medicines.Hedrick(1925)compiledhistoriesofcurrantdomestication.Redcurrantswere
probablyfirst cultivatedintheNetherlands,Denmarkand thecoastal plainssurrounding
theBaltic(Hedrick,1925).Selectedplantsofthesecropswereimportedto Englandand
France. By the 1500s, the cultivation and consumption of red currants were well
documented.Phillips(1831)describedredandwhitecurrantsaspopularfordessertsand
proclaimedthemtobesoothingtothestomach.Whitecurrantswereusedfortablewines
by the 1800s. In the early and mid1900s, the discovery that black currant fruits had a
highcontentofvitaminC(ascorbicacid)promotedcropdevelopmentasahealthfuldrink
throughoutEurope,wherecitruscouldnotbegrownandwasexpensivetoimport.Cultivated
black 252 K.E.Hummer andA. Dale currant fruit contain from 50 to250 mg vitamin
Cper100g freshweightoffruit,andsomewildspeciescontainupto 800mg per100
gfreshweight.Recently,nutritionistshaveemphasizedtheimportanceofantioxidantsto
reduce cancer, heart disease and other health concerns. Black currants contain high
concentrationsoftotalphenolics,anthocyanins,andarehighinantioxidantcapacity(Moyer
etal.,2002).Theantioxidantlevelsofblackcurrantsoccurinthehighrangeofblueberries,
blackberriesandblack raspberries,whicharehigherthanotherredcolouredfruits,such
asstrawberriesandredraspberries,whichareinturnmuchhigherthanvegetables(Wang
et al., 1997).
The word ‘currant’ is derived from the ancient Greek city of Corinth, which was
known for it production of small dried grapes known now as Zante Currants. Early
references to Ribes currants use words like corinthes, corans, currants, and
bastardecorinthes.Knowncurrantcultureinfarmsandgardensdatesbackat leastasfar
as the Renaissance in Europe, and to the arrival of early colonists in NorthAmerica in
thelate1700’s,thoughNativeAmericanswereknowntoharvestthemfromthewild.Old
herbalist texts from the 1600’s describe the medicinal properties of currants. Native
Americansusedtheminmedicinesanddyes.In1629,amemorandumoftheMassachusetts
Companyincludescurrantsamongalistofplantsdestinedforthe“NewWorldColonies”.
Thebotanicalrootsofthisgenusgoevenfurther back,astheoriginsofthegenusname
Ribes trace back from the Syrian or Kurdish Ribas, which was derived from an old
Persian word Riba. Early selection and breeding programs beginningin the 1700’s and
1800’sandcontinuetilldatehaveledtothemultitudeofcultivatedvarietieswenowknow.
In addition, many wild species have also been identified throughouttheir native regions.
3. TAXONOMY
RibeswaspreviouslyclassifiedinthefamilySaxifragaceae,butrecenttaxonomictreatments
placethegenusintoGrossulariaceaebasedonpresenceofwhollyinferiorovaries,totally
Currants | 257
syncarpousgynoecium,andfleshyfruits(Cronquist,1981;Sinnott,1985).Previous,botanical
references defined separate genera for currants and gooseberries (Coville and Britton,
1908; Berger, 1924; Komarov, 1971). Most taxonomists now recognize a single genus
(Janczewski,1907;Sinnott,1985).Thatgooseberryandcurrantspeciesareabletohybridize
supports the singlegenus concept (Keep, 1962). The genus has five subgenera: (1)
Berisia, European dioecious plants; (2) Grossularia, gooseberries; (3) Grossularioides,
thornycurrants;(4)Parilla,SouthAmericannativesand(5)Ribes,currants.Thesubgenus
Ribes includes eightsections, four of which are of importance to cultivated forms: (1)
Botrycarpum (formerly Coreosma), the black currants, the most economically important
section; (2) Calobotrya, ornamental currants; (3) Ribes, redand white currants and (4)
Symphocalyx, goldenflowered currants with black fruits.
ThegenusRibesbelongstothefamilySaxifragaceae,genusissometimesdividedinto
twodistinctgroups,thetrueRibesandtheGrossularia.Ribesingeneralarecharacterized
withunarmedstems,flowersoccurinracemosewithjointpedicles,whereasin Grossularia
thestemsarewithspinesandprickles,flowersappearsolitaryorin24floralracemeand
pedicles are not joined.
OnthebasisofmorphologicalfeatureRibeshasbeendividedintosubgenera,section
or series. The black currant has evolved from Ribes nigrumi, a species widespread in
Europe and northern and centralAsia.
Theblack currant (Europeanblack currant alongwiththe blackor browntypewith
resinous glands)havefurther beenplacedunder Eucorcosmawhichcomprisenumberof
specieslikeR.nigrum(Europeanblackcurrant),R.americana(Americanblackcurrant),
R. petiolare (Western black currant), R. hudsonianum (northern black currant), R.
bracteosum, R.missouriense, R.dikuscha and R. viburnifolium.
Based on variability, red currants are placed under subgenus Ribesia derived from
threespecies,R.rubrum(centralandnorthernEuropeandnorthernAsia),R.sativum(R.
vulgare),Western Europe and R. petraeum (western and central Europe). Further white
currants are  botanical forma of red currants. Species of this group are R. multiflorom
(native of Eastern Europe), R. triste (N. Asia and America) and R. longeracemosum.
4. CENTERS OF DIVERSITY
Wild Ribes species are indigenous, circumpolar, boreal, and in the mountains of North,
CentralandSouthAmerica.Theprimarycentresfortheancestorsofthecultivatedblack
and red currants are northern Europe, Scandinavia and the Russian Federation (Rehder,
1986;Jenningsetal.,1987).Severalspeciesofblackcurrantswithsessile,yellowglands
are originated in SouthAmerican highlands. Ornamental and golden currants are native
to North and Central America. The principal evolutionary trend inthese groupsappears
tobebiogeographical(Sinnott,1985).Messingeretal.(1999)suggestedtwopossible,not
mutuallyexclusive,evolutionaryscenariosforRibes—longperiodsofstasisinterruptedby
suddenradiationofspeciesandgeneflowfromhybridizationasaprocessofdiversification.
258 | TemperateF ruitCrop  Breeding:Dom estication to CultivarDevelopment
The small, delicious, and in some cases ornamental berries are borne on bushes
belonging to the genus Ribes and are native to northern latitudes of Europe, Asia, and
North America. Major geographical diversity centers are in North America, Northern
Europe and Scandinavia, and the former USSR (Rehder, 1954, Jennings et al., 1987).
Blackfruitedcurrantsin thesubgenusEucoreosmaspeciesarewithresinousglands. R.
nigrum L., the European black currant, common in northern Europe and central and
northern Asia up to the Himalayas is most important species. Subspecies europaeum,
scandinavicum, and var. sibiricum Wolf, are recognized (Keep, 1976). Other important
EucoreosmaspeciesincludeR.dikuschaFisch.,plentyaroundLakeBaikaltoKamchatka
intheformerUSSR(Berger,1924),iswinterhardy;R.ussurienseJancz.,fromnorthern
Korea(Komarov,1971),issimilarto R.nigrumbutproducerootsuckersreadily(Krussman,
1978); R. pauciflorum Turcz. ex Pojark., the smallflowered blackcurrant from eastern
Siberia and Manchuria; R. bracteosum Dougl., the Californian black currant are in
abundancefromCaliforniatoAlaska;R.petiolareDougl.,thewesternblackcurrantfrom
northwestern regions of the United States; R. hudsonianum Rich., the northern black
currantfromtheHudsonBayregionofCanada; andR. americanumMill.,theAmerican
black currant widely distributed within North America.
The red currants part of subgenus Ribesia (Berger, 1924) occur in abundance in
northern Europe, North American specieslike R. triste Pallas is also found. They have
crystalline glands on young growth, and three main specieshave been of evolutionary
importance inthe development of commercial cultivars: R. sativum Syme(= R. vulgare
Jancz.),foundmainlyinnorthwesternareas;R.petraeumWulf.,amontanespecieswith
severalecotypes(Keep,1976);and R.rubrumI,.,founduptoabout.70°NinScandinavia
andwithmanylocalecotypes(Asheim,1986).Commercialcultivarsarederivedfromone
or a combination of these species. Other Ribesia speciesof importance are R. spicatum
Robs., which occurs wild in northern parts of Norway for usein genetic improvement
programs(Samuelsen,1986),andR.multiflorum Kit, whileWhitecurrantsareacolour
variant of the red.
5. OB JECTIVE S OF IMP ROVEMEN T
i. Vegetative characters To develop variety having drought resistance, spring frost
hardiness, low chilling requirement for dormancy, more winter hardiness, short
flowering season, spinelessness branch, with more plant vigour.
ii. Disease and insect pest resistance:To develop variety resistance to reversion,
leafspot,viruses,whitepineblisterrust,spectorialeafspot,botrytisrelateddiseases,
black currant gall mite, leaf curling midge, aphids, and other pests. Breeding for
resistantcultivarstodamagingpestanddiseaseisparamounttobreedingofcurrants
especiallyfororganiccultivation.Theprimaryconcernofblackcurrantplantations
in Europe are infestation by gall mite (Cecidophyopsis ribis), a vector for the
blackcurrantreversionnepovirus(BRV)thatmakesorganicandintegratedgrowing
Currants | 259
very risky. Resistance has been achieved by introgression of the Ce gene from
gooseberry into R. nigrum followed by an extensive back crossing programme
(Knight et al.,1974).PCRbasedmarkerslinked toresistancetothe blackcurrant
gallmitehavebeendeveloped(Brennanetal.,2009).BreedingatBalsgård,Sweden
is ongoing to find other complimentary possible sources of resistance towards
infestation to gall mite. Significant damages are also caused by foliar pathogens
such as mildew (Sphaerotheca morsuvae (Schwein.) Berk & Curtis), septoria
leaf spot (Mycosphaerella ribis (Fuckel) Lindau), anthracnose (Drepanopeziza
ribis (Kleb)andtherust fungi(Cronatium ribicola Fisch.).Breeding is aimedfor
the introduction of cultivars suitable for organic cultivation for the production of
healthy leaves to be usedin preparation of diverse food supplements.
iii. Fruit charactersTo develop variety having fruits ofbetter size, firmskin, shorter
strig length, early ripening season, suitability in mechanical harvesting with less
premature fruit drop.
iv. Yieldandquality:To develophighyielding varietyhaving good quality fruits like
higher ascorbic acid content with pleasant flavour.
v. To develop cultivars having better processing quality traits: Over the past
40 years, the breeding of black currants has undergone significant changes solely
duetodemandsbytheprocessingsectormainlyforjuiceproduction.Thebreeding
targets are therefore focusing to satisfy the processors leading todevelopment of
cultivarswithfruitshighinascorbicacidbutmoderatelevelsofacidity,goodflavour
and other sensory characteristics (Brennan and Gordon, 2002). Also, there is an
increasing interest for cultivars with enhanced levels of polyphenols, including
anthocyanins,duetothehighantioxidantcapacity(AnttonenandKarjalainen,2006;
Tabart et al., 2006;2007).
vi. Althoughthemainemphasisisgiventotheprocessingandnutritionalqualityofthe
fruits;breedingforbetteragronomictraitsisequallyimportant.Theagronomictraits
are not least important in the breeders and growers perspective, as the consumers
prefer residue free fruit and therefore are an important move towards integrated
crop management system that restricts the usage of insecticides (Brennan and
Graham, 2009). Cultivars that flourish under a low input system are becoming an
important factor in selection of desired genotypes (Brennan, 2008).
vii. Another important goal in black currant breeding is the development of cultivars
withgoodphysicalcharacteristicslikeuprightandvigorousgrowthhabit,longstrigs,
bigberrysize,firmnessandfruitswithdrypickcharacteristicsincaseoffreshfruit,
increased yields and ease for mechanical harvesting.
viii. To develop late flowering, spring frost tolerant and lowchill requirement
germplasm with better adaptability to varying climatic conditions : Changing
climatic conditions is a major concern for the present day black currant breeding.
Climaticdatasuggestthattherehavebeensignificantchangesintemperatureinthe
past100yearswithanincreaseby1
o
C,greaterthantheglobalaverage.Temperature
260 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
projectionsinEuropesuggestthatby2080therecouldbeanincreaseintemperature
by2.5
o
C.Altogether,climaticmodellingshowsthatcoldtemperatureswilldecrease
significantlyinthefuture.Becauseblackcurrantisanearlyspringbloomingshrub,
theriskofspringfrostisamatterofseriousconcernduetofloraldamagesleading
to poor yield. In additionto this, mild winters andinsufficientwinter chilling have
profoundeffectsontimeandevennessofbudbreak,timeanddurationofflowering
thereby leading to considerable yield loses in susceptible cultivars.
ix. Thecontentofbioactivecompoundsincludingsugars,vitaminCandacidsmightbe
affected by latitude, temperature, day length, UV radiation and total precipitation.
Asblackcurrantiscultivatedundercontractfarmingforcommercialjuiceproduction,
itisessentialfortheprocessorsthatthecompositionandsensorycharacteristicsof
thejuiceremainconstant.Hencetherearisesaneedtodevelopcultivarsthatisless
affected by weather conditions; the more stable a cultivar is, the more amenable
for commercial processing (Zheng et al., 2009).
x. In recent years, characters linked to sensory parameters, sucha s flavour intensity,
colour, sourness, mouth feel and aroma have received considerable attention in
determiningtheproductqualityleadingtoincreasedconsumeracceptability.Hence,
need arises to screen and select germplasm with superior sensory at tributes. The
identificationof cultivarswithgoodsensorycharactersandwithabalancedsugar/
acidratioisimportantforjuiceprocessing.Thereisasteadyincreaseindemandfor
freshfruitanddessertqualityblackcurrantswithhighconcentrationofsolublesolids;
so breeding programmes are focused to produce new varieties with sweeter fruits
therebyleadingto theincreaseinrelativelylowfreshfruitmarket(Brennan,1996;
2008).
6. CYTOGENETIC
ThebasicchromosomenumberofRibesisx=8andallspeciesandcultivarsarediploid.
The chromosome complement and karyotype within the genus show a high degree of
uniformity. Ribes has great diversity in plant morphology and characteristics, the
chromosomes are relatively small, 1.52.5 µm and uniform (Sinnott, 1985). Mitotic and
meiotic processes arealso highly uniform (Zielinski, 1953).
Geographical adaptation has played a major role in the evolution of Ribes species,
characterized by the cytological uniformity and lack of cross breeding barriers within
subgenera, although some earlier workers thought that the accumulation of mutations
(Zielinski, 1953)or structural chromosome changes (Goldschmidt, 1964) were involved.
Molecular studies of Ribes have been made by Messinger (1995).
7. INHERITANCE PATTERN
Tydeman (1938) investigated the inheritance of commercially desirable characters in
crossesbetweenwesternEuropeancultivarsandconcludedthat forfurther improvements
Currants | 261
require the involvement of speciesother than R. nigrum. His ideas have been applied in
the increasing use of Nordic and Russian germplasm in modern black currant breeding.
InheritanceoffruitcolourwasstudiedbyKeepandKnight(1970)andconcludedthatred
versuswhitefruitinredcurrant,blackversusyellowgreeninblackcurrantarecontrolled
by single dominant gene and are represented by the symbols Re, and Rb respectively.
The genetic analysis in black currants has been fairly restricted till date, and most
informationislinkedtoagronomictraits.Zurawiczetal.(1996)usinga5x5diallelcross
focusing on variation andheritability of someagronomic traits like fruit yield, leaf spot
resistance, plant habit etc.,showed that additive genetic effects were mostly higher than
nonadditivegeneticeffectsforsometraitsstudied.Nonadditiveeffectsweregreaterthan
additiveeffectsforthetraitssuchasplantvigour,bushsizeetc.Narrowsenseheritability
was mostly dominating for all these traits, suggesting breeding would be difficult and
costly.An early identification of the best parental genotypes would therefore be highly
desirable.
Plutaetal.(2008)identifiedpromisingparentsforthedevelopmentof‘dessertquality’
black currants among six black currant genotypes, which differed phenotypically and
genetically. The clone ‘SCRI C2/15/40’ (now released as `Big Ben’) and the Swedish
cultivar‘Storklas’,werefoundthemostsuitabledessertqualityparentaltypesduetotheir
stable and reasonable GCA (General combining ability) effects.
Currentlylittleisknownabouttheheritabilityoffruitqualitytraitsinblackcurrant,
studiesinNewZealandhaveshownthatadditivegeneticeffectsweresignificantfornine
antioxidanttraitsfromprocessedblackcurrantfruit(Currie etal., 2006)andinitialanalysis
ofafulldiallelexperimentatSCRIreleasedthatsometraitsincludingascorbicacidcontent
showalargecomponentofgeneticvariance(Vagiri etal, unpublished).Ascorbicacidcontent
hasahighnarrowsenseheritability,soitisclear.Therefore,that breedingforincreased
ascorbicacidcontentisanachievableobjectivewithintheparentalcombinationshouldbe
chosentoreflectthisandalsootherantioxidanttraits(Currie etal.,2006).
Resistancetowhitepineblisterrust(WPBR)disease,causedbyCronartiumribicola
J.C.Fischer,isacriticalobjectiveforplantbreedersseekingtoreleasenewblackcurrant
(Ribesnigrum L.) cultivars in North America. Genetic immunity to the disease was
discoveredintheAsiaticspecies,R.ussurienseJancz.inthe1930s.‘Consort,’animmune
F1 genotype with the pedigree R. nigrum L. ‘Kerry’ ×R. ussuriense, was released in
1952;andhasdevelopedneitheruredinianorteliainfieldorgreenhouseinoculationtrials.
The objective of this study was to determine whether resistance in F2 progeny of R.
nigrum‘BenLomond’×‘Consort’segregatesina1:1ratio.Followingartificialinoculation
of single leaf cuttings in a controlled environment, 40 of the 86 F2 genotypes were
susceptibletoWPBR;46exhibitednosignsofthedisease.Chisquareanalysisfailedto
reject the H0 that segregation of the resistance trait occurred 1:1. The Cr gene was
inheritedasasimpledominantalleleintheF2generation.‘Consort’isheterozygousfor
the dominant Cr gene. (Dalton and Hummer, 2009).
262 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
8. PROBLEMS IN BREEDING
8.1.Selfincompatibility
SelfincompatibilityinRibesroezlii, R.glutinosum,R.nevadense,andR.viscosissimum
has been reported by Offord et al (1944). From the 736 Ribes flowers that were self
pollinated,notasinglematurefruitwasobtained.Ontheotherhand,crosspollinationof
621flowersresultedinthesettingof286fruits.Fromcrosspollination176maturefruits
were ultimately obtained for seedgermination tests.
SelfincompatibilitypredominatesamongwildRibes(Brennan,1996).Onlytwoblack
currantcultivarshavebeenreportedwith completeselfsterility, althoughhighlyreduced
selffertilityis morecommon.Fernqvist(1961)observedthat blackcurrantshadlittleor
no difference in fruitset after selfpollination, crosspollination, or openpollination. In
contrast,BaldiniandPisani(1961)observedthat fruitsetwasconsiderablyincreasedby
crosspollination;however,differencesoccurredwithdifferentpollenparents.Commercial
fields of Ribes are planted with pollinizer cultivars to ensure and enhance fruit set.
8.2.SlowPollenTubeGrowth
Flowers of the varieties Baldwin, Wellington XXX and Victoria were selfed or cross
pollinatedandthemaximumpenetrationofpollentubesatgiventimesafterpollinationwas
measured.Pollentubepenetrationtotheembryosacfollowingselfpollinationwasnormal,
butpenetrationoftheovarywasslowerandthenumberoffertilizedovulestendedtobe
lowerthanincrosspollinatedflowersWilliamsandChild(1963).Pollentubegrowthwas
studiedinaseriesofcrossesinvolvingthehighlyfertile‘Roodknop’,thehighlyselfsterile
‘HollandBlack’and‘SilvergieterZwarte’andfoundthatpollinationof‘Roodknop’with
anyofthethreecultivarsledtovigorouspollengerminationandpollentubegrowth,while
pollination of ‘Holland Black’ with anyof the three cultivars led to weakpollen tube
growth,terminatingashortdistancefromthetopofthestyle(CvopaandIvanicka,1975).
8.3.  Prema ture Fruit D rop
Blackcurrantsfrequentlysufferfromprematurefruitdropseveralweeksafterbloom.In
Europe,thisphenomenoniscalled“runoff”andisthoughttobecausedbylackofseed
setinthefruit.Runoffisacomplexproblemwithanumberofcauses,includingsusceptible
varieties, selfincompatibility, lack of pollination (too few pollinators or poor pollinating
conditions),soilfertilitylevels,virus,currantfruitfly,drought,excessivemoisture,Botrytis,
frost or varietal intolerance of cold above 0°C temperatures.
Research at the Horticultural Research Institute found that the variety Magnus can
lose 60% of its fruit if the overwintering buds are subjected to 2°C for two days when
the fruit buds are at the grape stage, the period when the fruit buds are just beginning
to expand (usuallyone or two weeksbefore flowering).
Currants | 263
8.4.ApomixisandParthenocarpy
Theblack currantcultivarsGoliath,AmosBlackandSeabrook’sBlackwerereportedto
beapomictic.OthercultivarsshowingsomedegreeofapomixesincludePamyat,Michurina,
Nigros,StakhanovkaAltayaand Golubka(Koloteva, 1987).
Smirnov(1972)obtainedverysmallamountsofparthenocarpicfruitsfromtheblack
currants ‘Golubka’ (0.8% of the total) and Pamyat Michurina (0.7%). The red currant
cultivar ‘Kernlose’ can produce seedless fruit.
9. FLORALBIOLOGY
Theflowersofcurrantareborneatthebasesofoneyearoldstemsandonspursonolder
stems,appear in earlyspr ing with new growth. Each flower bud has number offlowers
(up to 20), joined together on a delicate, drooping 5  6 inch stem, called a strig.
The majority of Ribes species are monoecious, althougha few dioecious types such
asR.alpinumandR. glacialeexist. Ribesspeciesgenerallyproduceflowersonsecond
year wood, and the flowers are borne on racemes (or strigs) that can reach over 20 cm
in length in some species. Red and white currants tend to have longer ra cemes than do
blackcurrants.Mostblackcurrantstrigsare10cminlengthbearing69flowers.Thestrig
lengthisreducedorfloweringissuppressedbylackofwinterchill.Flowers(greeninthe
caseofredcurrantsandblushpinkforblackcurrants)arenotshowy,butjoinedtogether
onthestrigtheygivethebushalacytexture,usuallypentamerous,calyxandsepalsare
coloured,petalssmallerthanthesepals,ormaybeabsent.Thestamensshorterorlonger
thanthesepals,ovaryinferior,onecelled,andmultiovulewithtwomoreorlessconnate
styles.Mostblackcurrantpollenisreleasedfromtheanthersbetween2:00and6:00PM;
so,mostpollinationoccursduringtheday(BaldiniandPisani1961).Fruitisaberry,usually
withmanyseeds.Pollinationisbyhoverfliesandotherinsects.Blackcurrantflowersare
attractive to honeybees. Most currants have selffertile flowers, but a few cultivars are
partially selfsterile, so set more fruits with crosspollination.To increase both fruit size
andnumber,clipoffpartoftheendsof thestrigswhilethebushesareflowering.Based
uponthecultivar,fruitsripenwithin70100days afterblossoming.
264 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
Most Ribes are insectpollinated, although selfpollination can occur, especially in
flowers that have both anthers and stigma at the same level. Most modern blackcurrant
cultivarsarealmostfullyselffertile,althoughotherRibesspeciesshowdifferinglevelsof
selfcompatibility(Brennan,1996).
Floral initiation generally occurs between July and late August in the northern
hemisphere,andisaffectedbyenvironmentalconditionsandgeographicallocation.Initiation
isthoughttoproceedacropetallyfromthelowermiddlenodes.Floweringvariesconsiderably
between species, but most black currants in the UKflower in April, withRed currants
slightlyearlier.Floweringdurationis generally34weeks,althoughhistoricaldatashow
thatintheUKfloweringhasbecomeearlierandmoreprotractedinrecentyears,possibly
due to changes in climate.
ManyRibesspecies,especiallyblackcurrant,haveflowersthatarehighlysensitiveto
springfrostdamagebytemperatures<8
o
C,andmuchoftheinitialbreedingworkinthe
UK andother parts of Europe was aimed at producing new cultivars that were able to
eitherwithstandfreezingtemperaturesatfloweringorfloweredsufficientlylatertoescape
themostdamagingfrostevents.TheuseofScandinaviangermplasmwasinitiallybeneficial
inthedevelopment ofUKbredcultivars suchas‘BenLomond’and‘Ben Sarek’,butin
recent years the incidence of serious frost events has shown a marked decline.In some
parts of the UK, frost protection irrigation is used to protect blackcurrant plantations
against damage.
10. DIFFERENT SPECIES
Ornamental and flowering species are R. aureum Pursh. and R. odoratum Wendl., from
the subgenus Symphocalyx (Berger, 1924), with fragrant yellow flowers and black or
yellowfruits, thesubgenus Calobolrya,includingR.sanguineum Pursh. (highlypopular
floweringcurrant),R.glutinosumBenth.,andR.cereumDougl.Also,theNorthAmerican
R. speciosum Pursh. in the section Robsonia of the subgenus Grossularia described by
Krussmann(1978) as “themostattractivespeciesoftheentiregenus,” withfuschialike
flowers and red fruit. Other subgenera has little been exploited by breeders, although
many species have potential as genetic resources (Brennan, 1990).
ImportantspeciesofgenusRibeswithdistinguishingcharactersaredetailedbelowas:
10.1.R.americanum.Mill.AmericanBlackCurrant.
Foliage with strong odour, upright bush, 5 feet, young growth slightly pubescent and
glandular,leaves35lobed,pubescentonandalongtheveins. Flowervariableincolour
greeninsh or yellowish calyx tube bell shaped. Fruits are black and smooth.
Currants | 265
10.2.R.aureum,Pursh.
Itresembles R. odoratum,smallandslenderfor all plantcharacters,younggrowthmay
be shiny or pubescent,leaves 13 lobed,flowers occur in raceme 515 flowered clusters,
flowers yellow showy and fragrant, fruit, red or black, globose.
10.3. R. bracte osum Dougla sCaliforn ia Black  Currant.
Uprightgrowingshrub,younggrowthslightlypubescentandwithresinousdots,leavesthin
cordate37 lobed, racemelongandnarrow,flowersgreenishorpurplish,calyxtubecup
shaped, fruits edible, black with white bloom and resinous dots.
10.4.R.cereum Doug las
Flowerwhiteorgreenish,petalsverysmallround,stylehairyverysmoothorwithglands.
Fruitsarebrightred½inchormoreacross.Denselybranchedsmalluprightshrub,leaves
35 lobed with soft pubescence on under surface.
10.5. R. nigrum,  Linn.Europ ean Blac k Currant.
ThespeciesisabundanceinEurope,NorthandCentralAsia,Himalayanregion.Medium
growinguprightshrub6feet,branchesthickandstoutwithunpleasantflavour,leaves3
5lobed,slightlypubescent.
10.6. R. odora tum, Wendl. Missouri C urrant, Gol den Curran t.
Smallshruballyounggrowthpubescent,leaveovatetoorbicularnarrowatbase35lobed
margindentate,racemes58flowered,floweryellowfragrant,calyxoblonghalfthelength
of calyxtube, corolla half the length of calyx. Fruit large ¾ inchacross ovoid black in
colour.
10.7. R. rubrum, Linn.Northern  Red Currant.
The species is abundancein central and north Europe and N.Asia. Small shrub, 6feet,
younggrowthgenerallyshiny,leavestruncate35lobedalmostshiny,recemosespreading,
calyxtube saucershaped,flowergreenishorbrownish,fruitjuicyandredcolouredwith
flower reminents persistent at basal end.
10.8.R.sanguineum,Pursh.
Bush10feettall,younggrowthglandular andpubescent,leaveslikeotherspecies,dark
green, slightly pubescent above densely tomentose below, racemes with many flowered,
flowers are red and pubescent. Fruits slightly glandular, blueblack in colour and with
bloom on surface.
266 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
10.9. R. triste, P all. Swam p Red Curra nt.
Shortshrub,younggrowthslightlypubescentandglandular,leavesroundthin35lobed
, dark green shiny above, white to mentose below, flower purplish, calyx tube saucer
shaped, petals reddish smooth and red.
10.10.R.vulgare, Lam. Red or G arden Curr ants.
NativeofWesternEurope.Fruitsdistinctlyfiveangledat base,redwithstripesofwhite,
shrub upright 5 feet, young growth pubescent and glandular, leaves thin and cordate 3
5lobed,racemespendulous,withmanyflowers.Calyxtubesaucershaped,flowergreenish
withpurpletingeinside.
11. CROP IMPROVEMENT METHODS
11.1. HistoryofImprovement
Earlyfruitimprovementwasdonebynurserymen,localpeopleandprivatebreedersand
by professional plant breeders at statefunded institutes and commercial firms in the
twentieth century. From initial intercrosses between existing cultivars, the breeding of
Ribeshasprogressedtointerspecificcrossing,theincorporationoftraitsfromthevarious
centers of diversity, and the utilization of cellular and molecular techniques.
11.1.1. BlackCurrant
In the United Kingdom ‘Baldwin’ has dominated in the late nineteenth and twentieth
centuries and still occupies a significant proportion in hectare. Cultivars derived from
‘Baldwin’ and ‘Boskoop Giant’, were releasedin the early twentieth century, including
‘Malvern Cross’ (‘Baldwin’ x ‘Victoria’) and ‘Mcndip Cross’ (‘Baldwin’ x ‘Boskoop
Giant’), both bred by G.T. Spinksof LongAshton Research Station, ‘Wellington XXX’
(‘Boskoop Giant’ x ‘Baldwin’), and ‘Westwick Choice’ (‘Baldwin’ seedling).
Black currants cultivation in the United Kingdom was encouraged to produce juice
andpureesforinfants.Thisdevelopmentcontinuedafterthewartogiveastableindustry,
with contract growing, mechanical harvesting, and increased need for new cultivars.
Nordic germplasm was crossed with other Ribes spp. to develop lowtemperature
hardiness, particularly during the flowering period. The Finnish cultivar ‘Brbdtorp’ and
Swedish cultivars ‘Ojebyn’and ‘Sunderbyn IT were local selectionsfrom the wild that
weresuccessfulintheirnativecountriesandalsoinPoland(SmolarzandCianciara,1986)
andtheformerUSSR(PavlovaandVolodina,1978).Asparentallinesinwesternbreeding
programs,togetherwithotherSwedishtypessuchas ‘Janslunda’,playedamajorpartin
the development of lateflowering cultivars with improved lowtemperature hardiness.
ThesecultivarsaregrownextensivelyinUK.Thesebeganwith‘Blackdown’(‘Baldwin’
Currants | 267
x‘Brodtorp’),introducedatLongAshtonResearchStationin1971,and‘MailingJet’(R.
fuscescens[Jancz.]x‘Brodtorp’),releasedfromEastMailingResearchStation,England
in 1974 and bred by E. Keep. However, the most commercially successful of the new
cultivars are the ‘Ben’ cultivars bred at the Scottish Crop Research Institute. The first
release,‘BenLomond’([‘Consort’x‘Magnus’lx [‘Brodtorp’x ‘Janslunda’]),in1975is
the most popular cultivar in the United Kingdom, occupying approximately 60% of the
black currant acreage. Other cultivars in this series arc ‘Ben Nevis’ ,’Ben More’, ‘Ben
Sarek’, and the more recent releases ‘Ben Alder” (‘Ben Lomond’ x ‘Ben More’) and
‘Ben Tirran’ (a complexcross involving ‘Ben Lomond’, ‘Seabrook’s Black’, and ‘Amos
Black’), all of which are grown commercially in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
‘Ojebyn’ is widely grown, although newer cultivars such as ‘Titania’ (‘Golubka’ x
[‘Consort’x‘WellingtonXXX’]),‘StorKlasTSunderbynII’x[‘Consort’x‘KajaaninMusta’])
andsomeofthe‘Ben’cultivarsareincreasinginpopularityinScandinavia.InFinland,the
maincultivars are ‘Ojebyn’, ‘Melalahti’, and ‘Matkakoski’.
USSRindigenousspeciesR.nigrum var.sibiricumandR.dikuscha havebeenused
asdonorsforhardinessanddiseaseresistanceincrosseswithwesternEuropeancultivars
(Lihonosand Pavlova,1969),andthefirst importantcultivarproducedwas‘Primorskij
Cempion’ (R. nigrum x R. dikuscha). Today USSR has a very large range of cultivars;
themostpopularintheEurospeanareasare‘BieloruskajaSlodkaja’and‘MinajSmyrev’
(Volunez,1988).OtherwidelygrowncultivarsincludetheFinnish‘Brodtorp’.‘Golubka’
(a R. dikuscha derivative), ‘Narjadnaja’, ‘PilotAleksandr Mamkin’ (a R. pauciflorum
hybrid), ‘Stakhanovka Altaya’, and ‘Vystavochnaja’ (Pavlova andVolodina, 1978).
Cultivars‘Titania’,‘Roodknop’,andmostrecently‘BenLomond’and‘BenNevis’are
popularbesidesthetraditionallygrown‘Ojebyn’(SmolarzandCianciara,1986),whereas
, in France, old cultivar  ‘Noir de Bourgogne’ is still grown, but new releases such as
‘Troll’ and ‘Tifon’ may soon replace them.
Hunter (1950a 1955a) through interspecific crosses between R. nigrum and R.
ussurienseproducedtherustresistantcultivars‘Crusader’,‘Coronet’,and‘Consort’,but
the‘Ben’cultivarshaveyieldedwellinCanadiantrials.InNewZealand,themostpopular
cultivarsuntilrecentlywere‘Blackdown’andtheoldcultivars‘Magnus’andTopsy’,but
are likely to be replaced by  Europeanbred cultivars  (Anon., 1977).
11.1.2. Re d Currant
In United Kingdom, breeding of red currants has not been as extensive as for black
currants indicating therelative importance of the two crops. ‘Laxton’s Perfection’ and
‘Laxton’sNo. 1'werearound1910,andthelatterhasbeenpopularsincethenasa high
yieldingearlycultivar.AllRedcurrantcultivarswerederivedfromoutsidetheUK.‘Red
Lake’ was raised from unknown parents at the Minnesota Fruit Breeding Farm, in the
UnitedStatesaround1920andintroducedintheUnitedKingdomin1933andisstillthe
268 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
leading and popularAmerican cultivar in Europe. ‘Jonkheer vanTets’, rosefrom a wild
‘Jonkhecr vanTels’ were used to produce the cultivars ‘Fortun’, ‘Nortun’, and ‘Jotun’
which are grown locally.
11.1.3. WhiteCurrants
Of thewhite currants, the most popular European cultivar is ‘White Versailles’, an old
type raised in 1853 by M. Berlin in France. Presently Holland cultivars are gaining
popularity.
11.2.Hybridization
11.2.1.InterspecificHybridization
Interspecifichybridizationingenus Ribesisoneofthemosteffectivemethodsfordeveloping
resistant cultivars. Plants of R.nigrum x R.pauciflorum, R.nigrum x R.ussuriense,
R.nigrum x R. janczewskii (F1) were obtained directly after interspecific hybridization
ofcurrant.Hybridsof R.nigrum x R. americanumand R. americanum x R.nigrum(F1
F3) were obtained after interspecific hybridization and embryo rescue in vitro. Fertile
plants were found in all cosses. 20.052.3 per cent of hybrids in F1 were resistant to
powderymildew.Incrossesof R.nigrumxR.pauciflorumand R.nigrumxR.janczewskii
25percentplantswereundamagedbySeptorialeafspot.Plantfertilityofplanthybrids
R.nigrum x R. americanum and R. americanum x R.nigrum was very low in F1 and
increasedinF2andF3.Therewereresistantplantsinallfamiliesofhybridsobtainedby
reciprocal crosses, but resistance level of hybrids with R. americanum cytoplasm was
considerably higher. The resistance to fungal diseases of some hybrids in F3 generation
was higher than R.nigrum and equal to R. americanum (Siksnianas, et al., 2006).
In resistance breeding or for incorporation of a specific trait, wildRibes ar e widely
used.Geneticsolutionstothemajorityofimportantproblemsintheproductionofimproved
genotypes exist within the genus, and the rapid advances made in the development of
gene manipulation and biotechnological procedures have made useful genes in other
speciesmoreaccessibletobreeders.Themethodologyemployedintheuseofinterspecific
hybridization in a Ribes breeding programme varies according to whether the hybrid is
inter or intrasectional. Hybridization is usually as straightforward as conventional
intraspecific hybridization, and stringent selection for recurrent parental phenotypes can
produce commercially acceptable seedlings as early as the first backcross stage, e.g.
‘Mulka’ red currant, from an intrasectionalcross with R. multiflorum.
Intersectional crosses usually produce sterile diploid hybrids, from which fertile
allotetraploidscouldbeobtained,providestwoalternativeapproaches.First,theallotetraploid
isbackcrossedtoadiploidparent,leadingtotriploidseedlingscontainingtwogenomesof
the recurrent parent and one genome of the donor. Selective pairing at meiosis leads to
preferentialeliminationofchromosomes,andhencetheprobabilityofpolygeniccharacters
Currants | 269
beingtransmittedtothesecondbackcrossgenerationislessthanforcharacterscontrolled
byasinglegene.However,thedonorgenomeiseliminatedrapidly,sothatcommercially
acceptable types are achieved more rapidly. If the desired character is detected in the
backcrosses from a diploid line, the alternative approach can be discontinued.
Inthesecondmethod,allotetraploidisbackcrossedtoanautotetraploidparent,giving
firstgeneration backcross seedlings with three genomesof the recurrent parent and one
of the donors. These seedlings are more fertile than the triploids and pairing at meiosis
is fairly regular, so that polygenic characters have improved chances of transmission to
the second backcross generation and beyond. This approach is also appropriate when it
is unclear whether a desired character is under mono or polygenic control, but the use
of diploid backcross parents is usually preferable where possible.
11.2.2.HybridizationTechnique
11.2.2.1.EmasculationandPollination
Atballoonstageflowersareemasculated.Entirecalyxtubeusingfineforcepsandscalpel
is emasculated. The anthers of smaller flowers in red currant can be removed using
forceps. Fruit set is best when 56 flowers per inflorescence are emasculated.
Stigmawhenreceptive,pollenistransferredbybrush,andtwopollinationsaregiven
over a periodof 3 to 4days. Hybridization isdone in an insectproof greenhouse orin
thefield,althoughthosemadeinthefieldaredamagedbyspringfrosts.Fieldcrossesalso
require bagging of the emasculated branches with insectproof material.
Pollen can be stored for varying lengths of time according to the conditions; at 20
24°C in diffuselight viabilitywas lost within 14 days, althoughin dry storage this was
extended to 2530 days in the presence of sulphuric acid and 40 days with calcium
chloride (Raincikova, 1967). Studies at SCRI showed that pollen viabilityin a range of
genotypes declined to low levels after dry storage for 23 weeks at 4°C in darkness
(Brennan and Thompson (unpublished).
11.3. Mutation Breeding
11.3.1. NaturalMutation
Naturalmutationsor‘budsports’affectingseasonofleafingout,floweringandripening,
leaf shape, and fruit quality for black and red currants  has been noticed (Porpaczy et
al., 1964) and their use in breeding is limited.
Though rather rarely, spontaneous mutation have been reported: a mutant of red
currant with early ripening by Knight andKeep (1958) and one of black currant with
changed  ripening time by Hughes (1963).
270 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
11.3.2.InducedMutations
Colchicine has been widely used to induce tetraploidy, more specifically to produce
allotetraploidsfromwidespeciescrosses.MutageniceffectsofColchicinehavebeenobserved
aswellforexampleinredcurrants(Zeiling,1963).Artificiallyinducedmutationhavebeen
reportedbyseveralanother’s,suchasDoini(1976). Blackcurrantbecamerecognizedas
suitable material for mutation studies mainly through the more or lessclassical workof
Bouer(1957).Bouerintensivelystudiedtheusefulnessofartificialmutationinductionina
vegetativelypropagatedspeciesofblackcurrantsince,ashestatedblackcurrantisvery
hardtoimprovebycrossbreeding.HeirradiatedseveralgroupsofcultivarswithXrays
(optimumcloseapproximately3kR).Thelowerpartofthecuttingwasprotectedbylead.
The merit of his work was that he demonstrated very clearly that by repeatedly cutting
shootsbackthechimeraproblemcanbesolved.Numerousmutantswereobtained.Adistinction
was made between large mutations (many characters changed),small mutations (few
characterschanged)anduncertainmutations(notclearlyvisiblydifferenttotheparentgenotype
butcharacteristics,suchasfruitingmaybefavourablychanged).Largemutationsareofno
value,butthetwoothercategoriesmaybeuseful,thoughmostchangesareeitherunfavourable
themselvesoraccompaniedbyunfavourablychangesonlyapproximately1percentbeing
positive. One mutant was eventually commercialized, namely cultivar Westra, an Xray
inducedmutantwitherectgrowth(Bauer,1974).
Grober (1967) similarly irradiated thousands of cuttings with 2.53 kR Xrays and
producedmany mutantsafterrepeatedly cuttingshootsbacktoinducethebasalbudsto
develop.Apartfrommutationsinleaf formandinternodelength,mutantswithincreased
ascorbicacidcontentwereobtained.Otherreportsofmutationinductionhavebeenmade
by Kaplan (1953), who obtained variation in leaf characteristics, growth habit, yield,
flavouretc.NybomandBergendalusedgammairradiationaswellaschemicalslikeethyl
methanesulphonate (EMS) and NnitrosoNmethyl urethane (NMU).
In USSR colchicine has been widely used in Ribes breeding, for interspecific
hybridization.Mutagenictreatmentsusedareirradiationandchemicalapplicationssuchas
NnitrosoAmethylurea(NMU).Cultivar showed specificdifferences inthe sensitivityof
R. nigrum to mutagens (Ravkin, 1971).
Best results have come from treating young Ribes seedlings with 0.51.0 per cent
solutionswhilematureplantsshowedresistancetocolchicineapplication(Nilsson,1966).
Theprimeuseofcolchiploidyliesintheproductionoffertileallotetraploidsfrominterspecific
crosses,althoughSolovova(1972)describedthetreatmentofseedsofiyul‘skaya’black
currant with0.2 per cent colchicine to producealargefruitedpolyploid somaticmutant
‘Khludovskaya’.
Irradiationproduces a wide range of mutations, including the development of highly
erect growth habit, which led to the commercial introduction of the cultivar ‘Westra’, a
fastigiatemutantfrom‘WestwickChoice’ (Bauer,1970).Cuttings,seeds(Trunin,1976),
seedlingsor pollen(Ravkin,1976;1978a)arepotentialsourceforirradiation.Irradiated
Currants | 271
pollen enabled Ravkin andAntoshkina (1979) to select seedlings with improved mildew
resistance. A semi dwarf black currant mutants was selected after application of
dimethylsulfateenabledRavkin(1978b).A’nitrosoA’ethylureainducedmutantsof‘Pamyat
Michurina’ withimproved ascorbicacidcontent.Xrays alsoinducedincreasedascorbic
acidlevels(Grober,1967).
11.4.Polyploidy
11.4.1. Inductionof Tetraploidy
Natural polyploidy is of rare occurrence and has been reported only in cultivated types.
Experimentalpolyploidyhasbeenlargelyexploredin Ribesbreeding. Fromobservations
on colchiploid Ribes, assumed that reduced fertility prevents the colchiploid Ribes
establishmentinthewild(Nilsson,1959).In a hybridprogenyfromacrossbetweenthe
redcurrantcultivar‘Kyzyrgan’(itselfa R. rubrum xR.  petraeumhybrid)andtheblack
currant ‘Davidson’s Eight’, sterile plants resembling the seed parent were diploid while
fertileplantsresemblingthepollenparentweretriploid(Zironkin,1962).Haploidplants
wereobtainedfromabranchofanF2seedlingraisedfromopenpollinationofoneofthe
triploidF1,plants,andtetraploidplants wereobtainedfromashootofoneofthesterile
F1plants.
Triploidseedlingoriginatedprobablyduetounreducedgametes,whichmaybeafairly
common occurrence (Keep, 1965). Occasional tetraploid PMCs in the black currant
‘BoskoopGiant’andrestitutionnucleiinthePMCsofthegooseberry‘BroomGirl’2were
reported.
Nilsson (1959, 1966) found that tetraploid pollen of tetraploids within R. nigrum,
inducedusingcolchicineorotherchemicalmeans,werehighlyfertile(93%)butfruitand
seed set were reduced. Tetraploids could be crossed with diploids to produce partially
fertile triploids. The high fertility of tetraploid R. nigrum pollen was confirmed by
Chuvashina(1972)andTrunin(1975),andsubsequentpollinationofChuvashina’stetraploids
withdiploidpollen gaveabout 63% seedset. However,Bavtuto et al. (1984)foundthat
thebestresultswereobtainedusingthetetraploidformforpollination,withupto45%fruit
set. ‘Artificial crosspollination of the tetraploids gave a good set of large berries and
progenies containing mixoploids and ancuploids, but natural crosspollination was very
limited.
The induction of tetraploidy in R. grossularia produces highly viable pollen (98%
according to Nilsson (1959, 1966) but female sterilityis virtually complete. Similarly,
Nilsson foundhigh viability in the pollen oftetraploid forms of R. rubrum (80%), R.
oxycanthoides (91%, but little produced), and alpinum I. Induced tetraploids of R.
americanum, R. dikuscha, and R. odoralum are also reported (Shelabotin, 1978).
The morphological effects of tetraploidy in R. nigrum include increased flower size
and reduced numbers of flowers per inflorescence (Trunin, 1975), coarser and often
272 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
deformed leaves, thick, short shoots, and smaller fruit with fewer seeds (Sankin and
Yurchikov,1972).However,thefruitofgooseberrytetraploidsisusuallythesamesizeor
larger than the diploids. At the cellular level, larger cells with more chloroplasts and
altered ultraslructure in the nuclei, mitochondria, and chloroplasts have been reported in
polyploidy R. nigrum (Chuvashina and Turovskij, 1974), Forms with improved disease
resistance, later flowering and ripening, and improved fruit quality were selected by
Chuvashina (1972) from fertile autotetraploids of R. nigrum.
The useof colchiploidy in interspecific hybridization has been describedby several
authors;allotetraploidsofR.sativumx R.nigrumproducedbyNilsson(1959,1966)are
vigorous and fertile, withdark red fruits, and can be backcrossedto tetraploids of both
parents.Other allotetraploidsdevelopedbyNilssoninclude R. nigrum x R. sanguineum,
in which tetraploid seedlings in the F2 show a reduction in fertility; R. nigrum x R.
aureum, which produced few seeds. R. nigrum x R. niveum, which showed improved
mildew resistance, and R. nigrum x R. divarication andR.  nigrum x R. oxycanthoides,
both of which were fertile and resistant to mildew and gall mite. Sankin (1974, 1980)
obtained fertile amphidiploids from sterile R. nigrum x R. grossularia and R. nigrum x
R. americanum hybrids, and Chuvashina (1980)described both theproduction of fertile
amphidiploidsof R. nigrum x R. altissimumwith2n=32chromosomesanda2:2ratio
ofparentalgenomesandtheproductionoffertileallotetraploidswith2n=32 and a 3:1
parentalgenomecombination.Theeffectsofthesedifferentproportionsofgenomeswere
on the expression of characters in the hybrids. Tetraploid hybrids of R. nigrum x R.
grossulariahavebeenstudiedbyseveralworkers,includingNilsson(1959,1966),Knight
(1962), and Keep (1962a). Such hybrids generally have morphological characters
intermediatebetweenthetwoparents,breedfairlytrue,andcanbebackcrossedtodiploid
and tetraploid forms of both R. nigrum and R. grossularia.
Torestorethefertilityofinterspecificcurranthybridsandtoobtaintetraploidicvarieties,
invitropolyploidizationusingmicroshootsandisolatedembryos.Explantsof Ribesnigrum,
R. hudzonianum, R. aureum, R. americanum, R. uvacrispa and their hybrids were
used for the studies. Explants were treated with colchicine and orysalin solutions in
variousconcentrations.Colchicine (0.25%),toalesserextent thanorysalin(from20to
40ìM),decreasedthevitalityofisolatedmicroshootsofcurrantsandtheoutputofrooted
plantlets. Systemsof isolatedembryosandmicroshootsareequallyeffectivefor creating
polyploidscurrant.Chimericplantswereobtainedduringpolyploidizationinvitro.Thetotal
number of regenerants decreased with polyploidogen treatment, but the total number of
regenerants with a higher number of chromosomes did not depend on the kind of
polyploidogen and its concentration. The biggest output of regenerants was obtained by
treating isolated explants with 20 ìM orysalin. The frequency of regeneration after
polyploidogen treatment reached 19.3 % from embryos and 32.3 % from microshoots
(Stanys et al.,  2004 ).
Currants | 273
11.5.Biotechnology
11.5.1. In vitroRegeneration
WorkattheSCRIhasshownthattheyrespondwelltosterileculture,bothforgermplasm
storage and for propagationpurposes. List of media and growth conditions is given by
ZatykandSimon(1988),andfurtherdetailsaregivenbyBrennanet al.(1989),Brennan
(1990)andOrlikowskaetal.(1991).Themostcommonlyusedmediaformicropropagation
andstudiesofregenerationarederivedfromthat ofMurashigeandSkoog(1962) (MS).
Optimumcultureroomtemperaturesare2226°C;lightintensityiscritical.Sucroseisthe
main carbon source, although glucose has also been successfully used. Cytokinins were
added to most media, except those used for rooting, while auxins were a component of
most proliferating and all rooting media. Meristem culture was first described by Jones
andVine(1968)intheproductionofplantsfreefromveinbandingvirus,andfurtherwork
wasreportedbyPopovandVisotskij(1978),Welander(1982),andTyulenevetal.(1987).
BlendaandKirilenko(1982)regeneratedblackcurrants fromapicalmeristems,although
theplantswentthroughacallusphasethatcouldpotentiallyleadtochangesinthesource
material.In redcurrants,Feucht(1988)foundthatthecultivars ‘JonkheervanTets’and
‘Red Lake’ regenerated best from meristems.
Invitromultiplicationrateof14blackcurrantcultivarsfromshoottipsandaxillary
budswerecomparedonmediumcontainingbenzylaminopurine(BA),andthehighestrate
(3.53 shoots in 21 days) occurred in ‘Ben Lomond’, with significant variation between
cultivars.Scandinaviancultivarslike‘Brodtorp’showedlowermultiplicationthanScottish
cultivars.Shootmultiplicationoccurredwithin14days(Brennan et al., 1989).
Brennan and Jeffcries(1990), used lowtemperature (in vitro) storageat 6°C with
different cultivars and genotypes for germplasm  was storage. Different pretreatments
hadasignificanteffectonsurvivalrates.Sofar,storageofgenotypesforabout18months
hasbeensuccessful.Highersurvivalof‘HinnonmakiYellow’gooseberrywasfoundifthe
temperature and light intensity were increased sequentially after cold storage at 510°C
(Welander,1985).SakaiandNishiyama(1978a,b)achievedlongtermstorageandsurvival
of baseresources using cryogenic techniques under liquid nitrogenand storageat 50°C
inblackcurrant.
TheinductionofsomaticembryogenesisincurrantshasbeendescribedbyZatykoet
al. (1975). Somatic embryos have been induced from maternal tissues, such as the
nucellusorintegument,thatdevelopintowholeplants(Zatyk,1979)andcanbeusedas
analternativeto meristemculturefortheproductionofvirusfreeplants.Proliferationof
somatic embryos was found to provide a threefold increase in plant numbers within 6
months.Thetechniquehasprovedsuccessfulintheblackcurrants‘AltaiskajaDeserlnaja’,
‘Brodtorp’,‘Fcrtodi1’,‘Golubka’,‘Pobeda’,‘SilvergeitersZwarte’,and‘WellingtonXXX’;
the red currants ‘Fay’s Prolific’, ‘Jonkheer van Tets’, ‘Mulka’, ‘Red Lake’. Anther
cultureofblackcurrantbyJordan(1975)gaverisetoglobularstructuresandundifferentiated
pollen callus but not to welldeveloped embryos.
274 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
Zatyko and Simon (1988) described the use of zygotic embryos and embryo rescue
techniques.Fertilizedovulesareextractedfromimmatureberriesandgrowninculturefor
23weeks,afterwhichtheembryosweredissectedoutofsmallfruitlikestructuresthat
develop on the ovules. These were transferred and grown on to complete plants.
11.5.2.Isozymes
Isozyme markers for important characters have not been widely developed as extraction
protocolsinachievingclearlydefinedpolymorphismsaredifficult.FernqvistandHuntrieser
(1988) examined a range of common enzyme systems but achieved little intraspecific
polymorphism, insufficient to identify cultivars. Trajkovski (1975) using peroxidase on
polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) enabled a degree of separation of mildew
susceptible and resistant genotypes, and this was confirmed by Petrenko (1982) using
interspecific hybrids withR.  dikusclui or R. nigrum var. sibiricum. Petrenko identified
band 6 (of 9) as associated with resistance and band 2a with tolerance.
11.5.3.Transformation
The most successful method of specific gene insertion to date involves the use of
Agrobacterium tumefaciens as a vector (Chilton et al., 1977). A. tumefaciens has been
foundtoinfectblackcurrantsbothinthefield(SuleandSass,1977)andintissueculture
(Graham, 1991; Graham and McNicol, 1991). Through genetic transformation provides
exciting possibilities for thespecific traits are introducedinto existing cultivars, without
further genetic recombination. An internodal segment regeneration system has been
developedforblackcurrantswhichallowedtransformationexperimentstobecarriedout
at the SCRI.  These experiment s involved the use of (lie marker genes
neophosphotransferase (NPT II) (McDonnell et al., 1987) and Pglucuronidase (GUS)
(Jefferson, 1987) and have been transferred to and subsequentlyexpressed in the black
currantcultivar‘BenMore’(GrahamandMcNicol,1991),usingSouthernblot,dotblot,
and GUS assays. These initial transformation experiments are now being followed by
experimentsinvolvingpotentiallyusefulgenessuchasthecowpeaproteasetrypsininhibitor
gene, which may confer insectresistance on already successful black currant cultivars,
providing an alternative to chemical control.
11.5.4.MolecularTechniques
Molecularmarkersresearchworkespeciallyonrestrictionfragmentlengthpolymorphisms
(RFLPs), linked to important physiological and diseasepestresistance characters is in
progressat theSCRI.Also,preliminarystudiesoncoldinducedchangesinRNAactivity
andrelatedproteinsynthesisarcbeingdonebyR.M.BrennanoftheSCRI andH. Jones
attheUniversityofHertfordshire,England.StudiesontheidentificationofputativeDNA
markers of fruit colour in the blackcurrant were initiated at the Research Institute of
Currants | 275
Pomology and Floriculture in Skierniewice to elaborate a simple technique to precisely
select genotypes with black or green fruits at an early stage of plant development. This
study wasconducted on genotypes belonging to the cultivars ‘Bona’, ‘Titania’, ‘Verti’,
Clone 27/756 and their selected progeny (F1 and F2). One hundred andtwenty eight
informative DNA fragments were amplified using RAPD and ISSR with 29 primers on
template DNA from single genotypes and pooled genotype samples. Two PCR products
wereobtained.RAPDwithprimerOPA01amplifiedaspecificproductabout700bplong
onlyinplantsbearingthedominantblackallele.ISSR withprimer818generatedaDNA
fragmentabout1.2kbplongonlyinplantsbearingtherecessivegreenallele(Przyby³kowicz
etal.,2006).QTLsforfruitqualitytraitsincludingascorbicacidcontentandfruitacidity
havebeenmappedontotheblackcurrantlinkagemapbyBrennanet al.(2008)andwork
is in progress using key markers most closely linked tothese QTLs to provide tools for
breeding and selection in black currant.
Molecular techniqueshaveinrecentyears been appliedtoRibes, mainlyR. nigrum,
andvariousmarkertypesincludingRAPDs,AFLPs,SSRsandSNPshavebeenreported
for the genus. The first genetic linkage map of R. nigrum, based onAFLPs and SSRs
(genomic and ESTderived), has recently been completed (Brennan et al., 2008), and
work to identify markers linked to traits of interest is in progress at various sites. The
initial focus is on traits controlled by single genes, particularly those such as gall mite
resistance thataredifficultortimeconsumingtoscreenforinthefield,and inthiscase
a PCRbased marker closely linked to the Ce resistance gene is currently undergoing
validation. However, marker development and markerassisted breeding strategies for
earlyselectionforfruitqualitycharactersareprioritiesforthefuture.Effectivedeployment
of markers in breeding programmes will enable the current generation time for new
cultivars tobe greatly reduced.
12. CULTIVARS
12.1.Cultivars Developed inIndia
NostandardcultivationofthiscropareavailableinIndiahenceitsprospectsisdifficulttobe
indicatedunlesscultivarsareintroducedandtestedundervariedagroclimaticconditions.
12.2 . Cultivars  Develope di n other Countrie s
12.2.1.BlackCurrant
12.2.1.1. BenAlder
Highyieldingvariety,juicequalitysuperior,ripenslateJulytoearlyAugust,compactand
uprightgrowth,bushesarevigorousfruitsuitedformechanicalharvestbutvariesaccording
to climate, usually grows 4 feet tall. Flowers are later than black currant varieties.
Susceptible to white pine blisters rust, resistant to mildew very high.
276 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
12.2.1.2.BenLomond
Itissusceptibletowhitepineblisterrust, resistanttomildew(atsomeplacesresistance
hasbrokendown.Midseason,frosttoleranceduringflowering,ripensevenly,highyields,
large fruit, high vitamin C content and excellent juicequality. The berries are large and
firm. Bush compact spreading about 4½ feet tall.
12.2.1.3.BenSarek
Itisresistanttowhitepineblisterrust.Bushcompactrarely3 feettall,productive,fruit
very large and ease ofhand harvest; suitable for dessert quality. Fruits areripen about
7 days earlier than Ben Lomond with high tolerance for frost and cold injury.It may
benefit from staking or wire trellis on each side of the row to support heavy fruit load.
12.2.1.4.Titania
Itisimmunetowhitepineblisterrust,goodresistancetopowderymildew.Fruitsizelarge,
qualitygood,hashighpotentialasdessertfruit.Plantsareveryvigorous,6feettall.Titania
reachesfullmaturityinthreeseasonsasopposedtofourorfive.Forits vigorousnature,
Titaniais moreadaptable to growth in marginal soils and requires less fertilization than
other varieties.
12.2.1.5.Consort
Earlytomidseasonvariety.Fruitsaremediumsmall,firmnessmedium,juicequalityfair,
notsuitedtomachineharvest.Plantsareselffertilewithdependableset,productivityfair.
Susceptible to leaf spot and mildew but resistant to WPBR.
CultivarsCoronetandCrusaderaresimilarto‘Consort,’butbothrequirepollinators.
Yields and quality  are poor, resistant to WPBR.
12.2.1.6. BenConnan
Early variety of black currant, four or five days earlier thanBen Lomondin  UK, high
yielding, shows even and uniform ripening. Berries deep black (187 Connan berries vs.
206Lomondberries/250gramsfruit)withapleasantacid/sweetflavour.Growthcompact,
suitableformechanicalfruitharvesting,Upickfarmsandthehomegardenmarket.Rated
highly for fresh eating, jams, and preserves and canning but needs to be well harvested
and ripened for the best sweetness but suited for juice production. Though not resistant
to White Pine Blister Rust, but has relativity low levels of infection.
12.2.1.7.BenTirran
Ahighyieldinglatecultivarwithsmalltomediumsizedberries,pleasantflavour,excellent
for juice making. Flower later than other Ben series, has tolerance to spring frosts.
Currants | 277
Uprightgrowthandvigorous.Fruitsuitedforbothjuiceandjam,commercialandUpick
operations,andhomegardens.QuitesusceptibletoWhitePineBlisterRustbut hasgood
resistance to mildew.
12.2.1.8.BenNevisa
“Sisterseedling”ofBenLomond,productive,midseasoncurrantwithlarge,firmberries.
Good frost tolerance with no signs of over wintering problems in the Edmonton area,
resistant to mildew and produces medium size fruit.
12.2.1.9.BenAlder
Goodforjuicemaking,highlevelsofanthocyanins,highvitaminCcontentandhighcolour
stability in addition to mediumsize berries. Flowers are late hence resistant to spring
frosts.Berriessmallsizewithhighantioxidants.Growthvigorous,uprightsuitedmechanical
harvesting.Resistanttomildewbutsusceptibleto WhitePineBlisterRust.Rustdoesnot
seem to reduce production since it is a lateseason problem.
12.2.1.10. BenHope
An average yielding variety, vigorous, tall, developed at the Scottish Crop Research
Institute,require a sheltered site. Best flavoured fruitwith good resistance against foliar
diseases, good resistance to both mildew and leaf spot. Flowers two days after Ben
Lomondandfruitripens10dayslaterthantheBenLomondvariety,yieldsareconsistently
high.Producemediumsizedberrywithgoodsensoryqualitiesandthefruitis acceptable
for commercial production.
12.2.1.11.Tiben
Highyielder,highanthocyaninsandvitaminCaswellasevenripening.Uprightgrowth
and resistance to mildew. Relatively resistant to White Pine Blister Rust in Poland.
Comparative yield studies shown that Tiben recordedhigher yields than ‘BenLomond’
(bothmediumlate).‘Tiben’(‘Titania’×‘BenNevis’)hasstronggrowthandaresistance
to powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca morsuvae) similar to ‘Titania’.
12.2.1.12.Tisel
Exceptionalhighyields,evenripening,veryhighlevelsofvitaminC,withaverypleasant
freshflavour.FruitsareripenssomewhatearlierthanTitaniaandtwoweeksearlierthan
Tiben, resistant to mildew and immune to White Pine Blister Rust
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12.2.2.RedCurrantvarieties
12.2.2.1.WhiteVersailles
Largewhite,sweet,juicywhiteberriesonanuprightbush.Adeliciousdessertfruitwhich
also makes excellent desserts, wines and jelly. A wellproven with very good disease
resistance.
12.2.2.2.Cascade
Early, fruits are large, medium dark red, and produced on short strigs. Plants erect to
slightlysprawling,mediumproductivityandvigourmedium.Berriesaresusceptibletosun
scald should be picked promptly as fruit ripens.
12.2.2.3.JonkeersVanTets
PopularearlytomidseasonselectionfromHolland.Fruitsaredarkred,soft,flavourvery
good borne on mediumsize strigs. Flowers early and heavy producers. Growth is not
uniform,resistanttomildewandaphid,butgreymold(Botrytisspp.),acommonfruitrot
fungus (also called “runoff”), is a problem for production in wet years.
12.2.2.4.Detvan
MidseasonselectionfromSlovakia.Verylargeplant,robust,upright.Fruitlarge,produced
onverylongstrigs,oftenwithasmanyas25to30 berriesperstrig,veryhighyielding.
Good resistanceto grey mold.
12.2.2.5. RedLake
Midtolateseason.Fruitlarge,firm,lightred,subacid,hashighjuicecontentandeasy
topickfromlongstrigs.Plantsareproductive,upright,dense,andhardy. Susceptibleto
mildew with low tolerance to frost.
12.2.2.6.Wilder
Mid to lateseason. Fruit large, dark red, subacid, and produced on large, compact
clusters. Plants are productive, large, and upright to spreading. Resistant to leaf spots.
12.2.2.7.Rovada
Lateseason. Fruit large bear on long compact strigs, regular bearer and productive,
flowers late, less prone to frost problem than  other cultivars. Resistant to mildew and
other leaf diseases.
Currants | 279
12.2.2.8.Tatran
Lateseason. A sister selection of ‘Detvan,’ with many similar characteristics. Plants
uprightsturdy.Fruitareverylargeandproducedonlongstrigsof25 to30berries.Very
high yielding and resistant to grey mold. Should be planted at least five feet apart both
within row and between rows. Canes becomevery heavy with fruit and mayneed some
support.
12.2.3. White and Pin k Currants
Whiteandpinkcurrantsgrowlikeredcurrantsdifficulttofind,havelessacidity,sweeter,
unique flavour. The fruit are small, white to yellowish, and opaque to translucent
12.2.3.1.WhiteImperial
Midseason,commonlyavailablewhitevarietywithlowestacidity. Producessmallfruit
on long strigs. Yields are moderate. Plants have a spreading growth habit.
12.2.3.2.PinkChampagne
Mid tolateseason. Quality and flavour are good. Fruit are a translucent pink colour.
Yields are low. Plants vigorous, upr ight, and resistant to leaf diseases.
12.2.3.3.Blanka
Lateseason, heavy and regular yielder. Fruits borne on long strigs, large, opaque, off
whitefruit;tartwhenimmature.Plantsvigorous,spreading,easytogrow.Flowersinmid
spring,avoidinglatefrosts.
12.2.3.4.Primus
Lateseason.Fruitsarewhitetoyellowishonupright,vigorousplants.Similar toBlanka
in fruit quality, but yields may be some what.
13. FUTURE THRUST
The cropso far has not been introduced in India as the climatic conditions and other
requirementforthiscroparenotsuitabilityavailable,thereforeitisverydifficulttorefer
to the significance of this crop from India point of view. Still efforts are needed to
introducesuitablecultivarsthatadapttoclimacticconditionsandidentificationofsuitable
sites(s) when crop could be successfully grown.
280 | TemperateFruit Crop B reeding: Domestication to Cultivar Development
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CURRANTS VARIETY
BenLomond Ben Sarek
Blackcomb Consort
Red currant Titania
Whistler White currant
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