Background: Russeting is a disorder developed by apple fruits that consists of cuticle cracking followed by the replacement of the epidermis by a corky layer that protects the fruit surface from water loss and pathogens. Although influenced by many environmental conditions and orchard management practices, russeting is under genetic control. The difficulty in classifying offspring and consequent variable segregation ratios have led several authors to conclude that more than one genetic determinant could be involved, although some evidence favours a major gene (Ru). Results: In this study we report the mapping of a major genetic russeting determinant on linkage group 12 of apple as inferred from the phenotypic observation in a segregating progeny derived from ‘Renetta Grigia di Torriana’, the construction of a 20 K Illumina SNP chip based genetic map, and QTL analysis. Recombination analysis in two mapping populations restricted the region of interest to approximately 400 Kb. Of the 58 genes predicted from the Golden Delicious sequence, a putative ABCG family transporter has been identified. Within a small set of russeted cultivars tested with markers of the region, only six showed the same haplotype of ‘Renetta Grigia di Torriana’. Conclusions: A major determinant (Ru_RGT) for russeting development putatively involved in cuticle organization is proposed as a candidate for controlling the trait. SNP and SSR markers tightly co-segregating with the Ru_RGT locus may assist the breeder selection. The observed segregations and the analysis of the ‘Renetta Grigia di Torriana’ haplotypic region in a panel of russeted and non-russeted cultivars may suggest the presence of other determinants for russeting in apple.
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