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.
A collection of 151 apple cultivars was investigated with 7 RAPD primers generating 71 informative bands, to evaluate genetic variability and relatedness. All cultivars presumably derived through genetic recombination were distinguished whereas identical DNA profiles indicated that some cultivars had arisen as sports. A cluster analysis and a P
...CO did not reveal any distinct geographic patterns, but there was a weak tendency for Swedish and foreign cultivars to differentiate.. Many cultivars however clustered together with either one of their parents or with siblings. Overall genetic diversity among the 151 cultivars was estimated with Nei's diversity index (H), 0.269, and with Shannon's index (H'), 0.594. The cultivars were also analysed in six groups, according to time of origination and country of origin, with an average H = 0.262 and H' = 0.546. No major differences in genetic diversity were observed over time or space, although the group with recent, foreign cultivars had the lowest diversity (FL = 0.235, H' = 0.493). Comparison between the entire material and a subset with 94 mandate cultivars chosen for preservation in Sweden, showed similar genetic diversity: HFN.rj1E = 0.268, frE,NTIRE, = 0.593 and HMANDATE = 0.263, WMANDATE = 0.575. No major differences in band frequencies were observed between these two sets, but 5 RAPD bands were missing in the set with mandate cultivars.