The invasive bacterial disease fire blight, caused by Erwinia amylovora has the potential to destroy fruit tree orchards all over Europe. Effective plant protection methods are lacking in many countries, highlighting the increasing importance placed on identification of germplasm with heritable disease resistance. Recent l y. a promisi...ng QTL (quantitative trait locus) was identified on linkage group 7 in the apple cultivar 'Fiesta· which is derived from ·cox's Orange Pippin' . I n the present study, 144 Swedish and foreign apple cultivars were analysed with the SCAR markers AE I 0-375 and GE-8019. which flank-. this QTL. Twenty-nine of the analysed cultivars had both markers. 78 had either AE I 0-375 or GE-8019, and 37 cultivars did not carry an) of the two markers. Seventeen cultivars. 7 with both markers and I 0 not having either of the two markers, were then inocoluted with the bacterium in a 4uaran1i ne greenhouse test. Cultivars carrying both DNA markers were significantly less susceptible than cultivars lacking the markers, P<0.001. Cultivars that were most resistant had both markers and had 'Cox· in their pedigree. Unrelated cultivars with the markers may still lack the QTL.
In commercial fruit tree orchards, consistently high yields are necessary for a durable economy. The Swedish pear cultivar 'Carola' has been noted for low setting in some orchards, possibly due to insufficient pollination. In this study, fruit set was evaluated in a research orchard where `Carola' had been planted together with four potential p...ollinators. Total yield and number of fruits was noted during three and four years, respectively. In 2003, seeds were germinated from the harvested `Carola' fruits, and the paternity of three seedlings from 50 trees was determined with RAPD analysis. 'Clapp's Favourite' had sired 39.6% of the seedlings, closely followed by `Seigneur d'Esperen' (30.7%) and 'Clara Frijs' (26.7%) whereas 'Skanskt sockerparon' only sired 1.1% of the seedlings. The remaining 2.3% appeared to have been derived by selfing. Pollen-limited seed set was indicated at surprisingly short distances; accumulated number of fruits on the `Carola' trees was significantly higher when separated by only 2 m from one of the two most efficient pollinators, 'Clapp's Favourite' or 'Seigneur d'Esperen‘, compared to trees 4—l0 in away in the same row. Number of viable seeds per fruit was also higher in fruits from trees immediately adjacent to the pollinators, suggesting an effect of improved pollination success. The importance of very short inter-cultivar distances for efficient pollen transfer became even more clear when comparisons involved the true pollination distances as determined by RAPD; the accumulated yields decreased linearly from 55 kg at a 2 in distance to only 17 kg at 13 m.
Pollen-limited fruit set has long been suspected in some relatively low-yielding orchards with the Swedish pear cultivar 'Carola'. Fruit was therefore harvested on 23 'Carola' trees in a commercial pear orchard. The seeds were germinated and five seedlings from each tree were sampled to determine which of the surrounding cultivars had been the...most successful pollinators. Leaves of 'Carola', the 7 putative pollinating cultivars and the 115 seedlings were analysed with 6 RAPD primers. By comparison of the band patterns, paternity could be ascertained for 74 seedlings. The by far most successful pollinator was 'Clara Frijs' which had sired approx. half of the seedlings, followed by 'Herzogin Elsa', `Skanskt Sockerpiiron', 'Alexandre Lucas', 'Coloree de Juillet' and 'Doyenne du Cornice'. The latter is the maternal parent of 'Carola', and these two cultivars must therefore share one S-allele and hence can only be semi-compatible. In addition, 6% of the seedlings were in all likelihood derived from selling_ since they showed no bands that did not occur also in 'Carola'. Maximum distance between 'Carola' trees and suitable pollinators should not exceed 15-20 tn. Longer distances may produce a serious dearth of compatible pollen as evidenced by the large percentage of seedlings derived either from selling. (25%) or from long-distance (> 40 m) pollen transfer (25%) when 'Carola' trees were surrounded by non-preferred pollinators.