Resources for future breeding of apple utilising genome wide selection

Project aim:

To identify and plant a replicated set of near elite germplasm for phenotypying as part of work towards genomic selection

Project objective(s):

To identify a set of germplasm that captures the majority of important phenotypic variation for a future genomic selection population, including fruit quality traits, disease resistance traits and canopy architecture traits.

To create and plant a 3 fold replicated set of these apple scion and rootstock varieties that can be used to underpin future research and breeding work on apple. (Total 450 cultivars/lines)


These resources will underpin future research at EMR to improve commercially viable apple scion and rootstocks. Genome-wide selection (GWS) is a new method of breeding in which a small population that captures all of the desired phenotypic variation is  characterised in great depth, both at the whole-plant level and at the genetic level. The combined phenotypic and genotypic information is then used to generate predictions (using sophisticated mathematical models) of the optimal genotype for a desired set of phenotypic values. Crosses are then made between the predicted best parents. Far fewer crosses are required and selections from crosses are made based on genotype alone, meaning that selections are made at the seedling stage and planted for multi-site trials without evaluation in the field first. This cuts the breeding cycle by >5 years at a minimum. EMR is well placed to develop GWS and move within Europe to the forefront of modern breeding research.