Use of a transgenic early flowering approach in apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) to introgress fire blight resistance from cultivar Evereste
The long juvenile phase of Malus spp. has always been a major drawback for the rapid introgression of agronomically relevant traits (e.g. disease resistances) from wild apples into domestic apple cultivars (M. × domestica Borkh.). Several agro-technical approaches have been investigated but none was able to reduce the juvenile phase to less than 18 months. Recently, an early flowering transgenic line named T1190 was obtained by over-expressing the BpMADS4 gene from silver birch (Betula pendula Roth.) in the apple cultivar Pinova. In this study, we report on the acceleration of the first two introgression cycles (F1 and BC′1) of the highly efficacious fire blight resistance locus Fb_E from the ornamental apple cultivar Evereste, using the BpMADS4-transgenic line T1190. A background selection based on simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers regularly distributed over the apple genome was applied to the 24 BC′1 seedlings carrying the BpMADS4 transgene and the Fb_E locus. Two early flowering BC′1 seedlings estimated to carry less than 15% of the genome of Evereste were identified. They are currently (July 2011) being used in reciprocal crosses with the apple cultivar Royal Gala to continue the introgression of the Fb_E locus. Additionally, the strong phenotypic effect of the Fb_E locus from Evereste was confirmed by artificially inoculating a T1190 × Evereste F1 progeny with the causal agent of fire blight, Erwinia amylovora. Possible ways of enhancing the fast introgression of disease resistance genes in domestic apple using the transgenic line T1190 are discussed.
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