Genetic and Phytochemical diversity in Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) from a limited Geographical Area
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- Institutt for biologi 
In Norway today no commercial exploitation of the wild growing Norwegian bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) exists. The market in other regions of Europe, North- and South-America is based on the utilization of cultivated Vaccinium species. V.myrtillus shows generally a higher content of biochemical compounds with health-beneficial properties. As a consequence of an increasing demand for healthier food, the Nordic Bilberry project started in 2008 with the major goal to find superior clones adapted for different regions with effective production of phytochemicals. In addition, a 4-years Norwegian Bilberry project aiming at cultivation and yield potential aspects, was launched the same year (NFR project no. 184797). The presented master projected was affiliated to this project focusing on phytochemical and genetic diversity in Bymarka. It is known that life history traits of a plant species influence the clonal diversity and structure within populations. In this thesis different phytochemical methods were used for detection of total phenolics, anthocyanins and antioxidants in berry and plant material from 4 different areas in the geographic restricted area Bymarka, were a total of 80 individuals were collected. Average values detected for total phenols were 490 mg/100 g, 155 mg/ 100 g for anthocyanins and 4 mmol/ 100 g for antioxidants. The results showed little variation among clones in the restricted area. 16 primer pairs for 16 microsatellite loci were tested but only 4 (NA741, NA961, CA421 and CA483) turned out to be of good quality. These microsatellite loci were used to estimate genetic variability within and between populations. Little genetic variation was detected between the different plots, and populations had similar levels of within-population genetic variation. The highest diversity both genetic and phytochemically was found in plot D with berries without any wax layer. This plot was also more genetically different from the other populations than the berries in the same location/area/plot with a wax layer, though no significant differences was found in FST, Heterozygosity observed, Heterozygosity expected or allelic richness (P<0.05). The result from this thesis could be used further for improvement of breeding strategies and selection of cultivars with high phenolic contents for production of quality food.