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Two distinct major QTL for resistance to fire blight co-localize on linkage group 12 in apple genotypes 'Evereste' and Malus floribunda clone 821

Durel, C.E., Denance, C., Brisset, M.N.
Genome 2009 v.52 no.2 pp. 139-147
Malus domestica, apples, blight, Erwinia amylovora, plant pathogenic bacteria, pathogenicity, disease resistance, plant breeding, quantitative trait loci, linkage groups, cultivars, genetic variation, Malus floribunda, wild relatives, progeny testing, hybrids, phenotypic variation, genetic markers, gene expression
Fire blight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, is one of the most destructive diseases of apple (Malus xdomestica) worldwide. No major, qualitative gene for resistance to this disease has been identified so far in apple. A quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis was performed in two F1 progenies derived from two controled crosses: one between the susceptible rootstock cultivar 'MM106' and the resistant ornamental cultivar 'Evereste' and the other one between the moderately susceptible cultivar 'Golden Delicious' and the wild apple Malus floribunda clone 821, with unknown level of fire blight resistance. Both progenies were inoculated in the greenhouse with the same reference strain of E. amylovora. The length of stem necrosis was scored 7 and 14 days after inoculation. A strong QTL effect was identified in both 'Evereste' and M. floribunda 821 at a similar position on the distal region of linkage group 12 of the apple genome. From 50% to 70% of the phenotypic variation was explained by the QTL in 'Evereste' progeny according to the scored trait. More than 40% of the phenotypic variation was explained by the M. floribunda QTL in the second progeny. It was shown that 'Evereste' and M. floribunda 821 carried distinct QTL alleles at that genomic position. A small additional QTL was identified in 'Evereste' on linkage group 15, which explained about 6% of the phenotypic variation. Although it was not possible to confirm whether or not 'Evereste' and M. floribunda QTL belonged to the same locus or two distinct closely related loci, these QTL can be valuable targets in marker-assisted selection to obtain fire blight resistant apple cultivars and form a starting point for discovering the function of the genes controlling apple fire blight resistance.