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Methods for the Quantification of Resistance of Apple Genotypes to European Fruit Tree Canker Caused by Neonectria ditissima

Wenneker, M., Goedhart, P. W., van der Steeg, P., van de Weg, W. E., Schouten, H. J.
Plant disease 2017 v.101 no.12 pp. 2012-2019
Neonectria ditissima, apples, breeding, cultivars, genotype, girdling, leaves
European fruit tree canker, caused by Neonectria ditissima, is an important disease of pome fruit worldwide. Apple cultivars differ in their levels of susceptibility to N. ditissima. In order to design an effective plant resistance test, we examined the effectiveness of two resistance parameters: infection frequency and lesion growth. Both parameters were evaluated in parallel tests using 10 apple cultivars in three experimental years, applying seminatural infection of leaf scars (infection frequency) or inoculation of artificial wounds (lesion growth). We compared six parameters for lesion growth, of which a new parameter, lesion growth rate (LGR), appeared to be the best with respect to reproducibility and statistical significance. LGR is defined as the slope of the regression of lesion size versus time. The slope was estimated for each lesion, employing a common start date and a lesion-specific end date determined by the girdling of the lesion. The two parameters (infection frequency and LGR) were examined in separate experiments and in three successive years, and provided complementary information and resulted in reproducible conclusions on the relative resistance levels to N. ditissima of the tested cultivars. The presented methods can be used to develop strategies for the control of European fruit tree canker (e.g., in the breeding of new apple cultivars with high levels of resistance to N. ditissima).