Blueberry Genetics

I was a Research Assistant for Biologist, Dan Bell, pollinating blueberries in Machias, Maine for a project funded by the USDA.  Why do some blueberry plants yield more fruit than others, even if they produce the same number of flowers? Do some individuals self-pollinate better than others? These are a couple of the questions Dr. Bell is trying to answer.

anya-blueberries

Hand-pollinating in the field

We pollinated the flowers with a paint brush (tedious? yes!) and collected pollen by hitting flowers with a tuning fork. Blueberry flowers do not give up their pollen easily. They have evolved to release it only when certain frequencies of vibrations occur. Our tuning forks mimicked bees, whose wings vibrate at the right frequency to cause flowers to release their pollen.

tuning fork

Extracting pollen from blueberry flowers

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