Mapping quantitative physiological traits in apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.)
Efficient breeding and selection of high-quality apple cultivars requires knowledge and understanding of the underlying genetics. The availability of genetic linkage maps constructed with molecular markers enables the detection and analysis of major genes and quantitative trait loci contributing to the quality traits of a genotype. A segregating population of the cross between the apple varieties 'Fiesta' (syn. 'Red Pippin') and 'Discovery' has been observed over three years at three different sites in Switzerland and data on growth habit, blooming behaviour, juvenile period and fruit quality has been recorded. QTL analyses were performed, based on a genetic linkage map consisting of 804 molecular markers and covering all 17 apple chromosomes. With the maximum likelihood based interval mapping method, the investigated complex traits could be dissected into a number of QTLs affecting the observed characters. Genomic regions participating in the genetic control of stem diameter, plant height increment, leaf size, blooming time, blooming intensity, juvenile phase length, time of fruit maturity, number of fruit, fruit size and weight, fruit flesh firmness, sugar content and fruit acidity were identified and compared with previously mapped QTLs in apple. Although 'Discovery' fruit displayed a higher acid content, both acidity QTLs were attributed to the sweeter parent 'Fiesta'. This indicated homozygosity at the acidity loci in 'Discovery' preventing their detection in the progeny due to the lack of segregation.
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