QTL analysis for aphid resistance and growth traits in apple
The rosy apple aphid (Dysaphis plantaginea), the leaf-curling aphid (Dysaphis cf. devecta) and the green apple aphid (Aphis pomi) are widespread pest insects that reduce growth of leaves, fruits and shoots in apple (Malus × domestica). Aphid control in apple orchards is generally achieved by insecticides, but alternative management options like growing resistant cultivars are needed for a more sustainable integrated pest management (IPM). A linkage map available for a segregating F1-cross of the apple cultivars ‘Fiesta’ and ‘Discovery’ was used to investigate the genetic basis of resistance to aphids. Aphid infestation and plant growth characteristics were repeatedly assessed for the same 160 apple genotypes in three different environments and 2 consecutive years. We identified amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers linked to quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for resistance to D. plantaginea (‘Fiesta’ linkage group 17, locus 57.7, marker E33M35–0269; heritability: 28.3%), and to D. cf. devecta (‘Fiesta’ linkage group 7, locus 4.5, marker E32M39–0195; heritability: 50.2%). Interactions between aphid species, differences in climatic conditions and the spatial distribution of aphid infestation were identified as possible factors impeding the detection of QTLs. A pedigree analysis of simple sequence repeat (SSR) marker alleles closely associated with the QTL markers revealed the presence of the alleles in other apple cultivars with reported aphid resistance (‘Wagener’, ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’), highlighting the genetic basis and also the potential for gene pyramiding of aphid resistance in apple. Finally, significant QTLs for shoot length and stem diameter were identified, while there was no relationship between aphid resistance and plant trait QTLs.
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