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Development of a molecular map for top fruit rootstocks and extension of the portfolio of markers to include cider traits - HH3604STF

This project will develop markers for agronomically important attributes of top fruit rootstocks and cider apples, as well as marker-assisted selection protocols, and will also develop new breeding lines incorporating novel characters. Top fruit plantings in Britain exceed 15,000 ha and produce a crop worth £80 million wholesale. There is an additional 5,000 ha of cider apples supporting a cider industry valued at around £4.5 billion per year. For profitable and sustainable production to satisfy consumer requirements, growers need improved scion cultivars and rootstocks, e.g. with resistance to pests and diseases. Top-fruit breeding is a time-consuming process. However, recent advances at East Malling, in particular the identification of some key molecular markers, pave the way for streamlining the process via marker-assisted selection. Other genetic studies at East Malling have identified some novel sources of resistance. The marker technology and the breeding material will be transferred to the benefit of the UK growers via the Apple & Pear Breeding Club (APBC). The industry-funded APBC directs >£100,000 p.a. to top-fruit improvement at East Malling. The effective collaboration between the DEFRA project and the APBC is demonstrated by the recent releases of the apple rootstock M.116 and the quince rootstock for pear EMH in 2001, Meridian, a Cox-type apple, in 2000 and ‘Park Farm Pippin’, a scab-resistant apple, in 2002. The National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) is contributing an additional £5000 towards this project. This work is fully consistent with DEFRA’s policy for sustainable horticulture. The ROAME As for the Horticulture AUs specifically indicate support for work on breeding for pest and disease resistance and for improved quality using conventional and genome based techniques in fruit. By the end of the project, we will have:· established replicated rootstock mapping progenies· developed markers linked to key rootstock, scion and cider apple traits· added fruit quality markers to the current portfolio for marker-assisted selection· transferred the marker technology and new breeding lines to the industry-funded APBC
This project aims to extend the application of marker-assisted selection (MAS), in particular, into rootstock breeding, at East Malling by:1. Initiation of rootstock mapping and development of new techniques for rootstock selectionTo identify molecular markers linked to rootstock characters of interest, e.g. vigour, compatibility, drought tolerance, replicated segregating progenies need to be established and new screening techniques developed for generating phenotypic mapping data. 2. Identification and development of markersMarkers that are currently available derived from scions, e.g. those linked to resistance to scab, mildew and aphids, need to be tested in rootstock and cider germplasm. Further markers, e.g. those linked to woolly apple aphid resistance to the precursor gene for resistance to rosy leaf curling aphid, to phenolics and to fruit quality, are necessary to increase the efficiency of the MAS.3. Transfer of marker technologyThe marker technology needs to be transferred to the Apple & Pear Breeding Club for application within the industry-funded breeding programme.4. Development and transfer of new breeding lines and novel material to the Apple & Pear Breeding Club New parental material will be developed exploiting East Malling genebank material to incorporate the ‘novel’ resistances that are becoming more important to ensure the sustainable production of top fruit. In addition, novel rootstock and scion breeding progenies, after initial screening, will be transferred to the Apple & Pear Breeding Club for final selection and trialling in order to fully exploit the material and technology developed within this DEFRA project.5. Project review Progress and interaction with the Apple & Pear Breeding Club and the National Association of Cider Makers will be discussed annually with the DEFRA project officer.
Objective 2 (marker development) will provide some markers useful for objective 1 (rootstock mapping), protocols and markers for objective 3 (marker technology) and screened progenies for objective 5 (new breeding lines and novel material). Objective 5 (project review) will deal with progress in all five other objectives.

The extent of the restructuring of HRI following the Quinquennial Review and the potential impact on the achievement of objectives is unknown. The success of crossing in the spring can be reduced by rain or frosts, in perhaps two years out of five. Where possible, we make crosses on potted trees brought into a frost-proof glasshouse. The transfer of marker technology to the Apple & Pear Breeding Club has to be approved by its Policy Group, however we are ensuring that the group is aware of the advantages of MAS and that they are kept up to date with its development.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Development of a molecular map for top fruit rootstocks and extension of the portfolio of markers to include cider traits   (1013k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2003

To: 2008

Cost: £938,242
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Horticulture Research International, East Malling Research
Allocated - EMR              
Disease Control              
Natural Resource Use              
Pest Control              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study