Top-fruit growers worldwide require improved rootstocks to maintain profitable and sustainable production. Important factors for growers are dwarfing to reduce the cost of pruning and simplify picking, induction of precocious and reliable cropping, ease of propagation, freedom from suckers, good anchorage and durable pest and disease resistance. Additionally, climate change effects have increased the demand for both drought and flood tolerant rootstocks.
The East Malling Rootstock Club (EMRC) was established in 2008 and aims to deliver improved rootstocks to UK growers, with support from the Horticultural Development Company (HDC), and to overseas producers with funding provided by the International New Varieties Network (INN). EMRC’s remit is to breed, develop, distribute and commercialise new and improved rootstock material for apple and pear production, encompassing a diverse range of agronomic variation and resistance to pests and diseases.
The Club benefits from East Malling’s historic expertise in this area, as well as access to valuable breeding lines and germplasm. Further rootstock work at EMR has included:
- Developing molecular tools such as marker-assisted selection for the pre-selection of WUE in apple rootstock breeding.
- The generation of draft genome sequences for apple rootstocks.
- Transciptome and metabolome analyses of rootstock-scion combinations to reveal the interactions between grafted genotypes.
- Genetic fingerprinting of Brogdale National Fruit Collection.
- The study of soil microbial and fungal communities through metagenomics looking at the causes of ‘replant’ disease.
To find out more about the East Malling Rootstock Club, contact Feli Fernandez via Felicidad.Fernandez@emr.ac.uk