The aim of the Hungarian apple breeding program started in the Department of Fruit Science was to find resistant apple cultivars against major diseases (scab, powdery mildew, fire blight). The outbreak of fire blight (Erwinia amylovora) in 1996 motivated us to search new resistant sources principally from old traditional apple cultivar...s. First of all, cultivars have been gathered since 1997 from Carpathia (Visk) and evaluated between 2001 and 2003. In this recent study evaluation of resistance of old Hungarian genotypes to fire blight collected from the English National Fruit Collection (Brogdale, Faversham) is presented.
13 old Hungarian apple cultivars in 2002, and 38 genotypes in 2005 have been evaluated. We used `Idared' and 'Jonathan M41' as susceptible controls and 'Liberty' and 'Remo' as resistant ones. Shoots of two-year-old potted plants were inoculated with a mixture of virulent E. amylovora isolates (Ea2, Ea60, Ea67) at a concentration of 5 x 108 cells/ml. Resistance of apple cultivars was evaluated weekly, four times after inoculation by disease severity of symptoms. Numbers of bacterial colonies in 1 cm length shoot were determined in the fourth week after infection.
8 cultivars in 2002 and 9 cultivars in 2005 displayed notable resistance to fire blight based on one-year data. Based on the coincident data of both years, out of the cultivars collected also from Carpathia ‘Pónyik', and `Sikulai' were found to be resistant and gene sources additional old Hungarian valuable apple genotypes could be selected: `Szabadkai szercsika' and `Tordai piros !davit'. The cultivar `Szemes alma' originated from Visk has proved to be recurrently resistant.
The number of bacterial cells in shoots of the investigated cultivars correlated with the severity of symptoms. With this method, which was introduced by us earlier, we can screen cultivars displaying weak visible symptoms, which cannot be proposed as a source of resistance because of their latent infection.
Due to the lack of effective and non-phytotoxic materials for control of the blossom and shoot blight phase of fire blight in pome fruit trees, two novel control strategies have emerged: shoot growth retardation by bioregulators and applying resistance inducer compounds. Prohexadione calcium (ProCa) is the active ingredient of the bioregulator...Regalis® registered in several European countries. The reduction of shoot growth elongation is the most obvious effect of ProCa. Furthermore, it causes significant changes in the spectrum of flavonoids and their phenolic precursors, leading to the considerable reduction of susceptibility to fire blight.
In Poland, potted one-year-old apple trees of cvs. Gala Must grafted on M.26 and Sampion on M.9 (in 2001) as well as Gala Must on P.60 (in 2002) were treated with Regalis® at a range of concentration of 250, 150 or 150 + 100 ppm, respectively. The inoculation of shoots was made with the strain No.691 of E. amylovora (107 cfu/ml), on the 7th and 21st'day after treatments with Regalis. In Hungary, during the years of 2002 and 2003 one-year-old container grown apple trees of the cvs. Idared/M.9 and Freedom/M.9 were treated with the prohexadione-Ca, the active ingredient of Regalis® 100, 150 or 200 ppm, two weeks before inoculation with the Ea 1 strain of E. amylovora (107 cfu/m1).
In Poland, the suppression of fire blight in shoots reached up to 80%, depending on concentration and application time of Regalis®. In Hungary, the effect of prohexadione-Ca treatments, determined by the length of necrotic lesion developed, proved to be better than that of streptomycin used for comparison.