Multiple-population QTL mapping of maturity and fruit-quality traits reveals LG4 region as a breeding target in sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.).
Sweet cherry maturity date and fruit quality are relevant traits for its marketability, transport, and consumer acceptance. In this work, sweet cherry fruit development time, maturity date, and commercial fruit-quality traits (size, weight, firmness, soluble solid content, and titratable acidity) were investigated to improve the knowledge of their genetic control, and to identify alleles of breeding interest. Six sweet cherry populations segregating for these traits were used for QTL analyses. These populations descend from cross- and self-pollinations of local Spanish sweet cherries 'Ambrunés' and 'Cristobalina', and breed cultivars ('Brooks', 'Lambert', or 'Vic'). The six populations (n = 411), previously genotyped with RosBREED Cherry 6 K SNP array, were phenotyped for 2 years. QTL analyses were conducted using a multifamily approach implemented by FlexQTL™. Fruit development time, soluble solid content, and titratable acidity QTLs are first reported in sweet cherry in this work. Significant QTLs were detected for all the traits. Eighteen were more stable as they were detected for 2 years. Of these, nine are first reported in this work. The major QTLs for fruit development time, maturity date, firmness, and soluble solid content were identified on the same narrow region of linkage group 4. These traits also showed significant positive correlation (long fruit development time associated with late maturity, high firmness, and high SSC). NAC transcription factor genes identified on this LG4 region may be candidate genes for the regulation of these traits in sweet cherry, as previously described in syntenic regions of other Rosaceae species. Haplotypes of breeding interest on this LG4 genomic region were identified and will be useful for sweet cherry breeding from this and related plant material.
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