Screening Malus Germplasm for Field Resistance to Apple Replant Disease and Root-lesion Nematodes

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  • 1 Dept. of Fruit and Vegetable Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853-0327

Apple replant disease (ARD) is a serious problem in fruit production, and none of the major clonal rootstocks are resistant to ARD. We have screened Malus domestica clones and species accessions from the USDA Malus Germplasm Repository at Geneva, N.Y., including M. angustifolia-2375.03 (MA), M. coronaria-2966.01 (MC), M. fusca-3031.01 (MF), M. ioensis-3059.01 (MI), M. sieversii-3530.01 (MS), and M. kirghisorum-3578.01 (MK), for resistance to ARD and root-lesion nematodes (RLN, Pratylenchus spp.), in a composite soil collected from 11 New York orchards with known ARD. Plant dry mass and height, root necrosis, and nematode populations in different apple species and clones were compared after 60 days growth in steam-pasteurized (PS), RLN-inoculated (IS), and naturally infested field (FS) soils with 1200 RLN per 100 cm3. More severe stunting, reduced plant dry mass, and root necrosis occurred in FS seedlings compared with those in PS, but M. angustifolia seedlings were substantially more resistant or tolerant to RLN and ARD than the other species tested. Plant dry mass ranked MK>MS>MA>MI>MF>MC, and these differences were significant at the 5% level. RLN root populations were negatively correlated with plant dry mass, and accounted for about 10% of its variation, with nematode populations in roots ranking MC>MF>MK>MI>MS>MA. Useful resistance to ARD and parasitic nematodes apparently exists within Malus germplasm collections, and can be identified by testing more genotypes, developing rapid resistance screening methods, and comparing RLN host preferences among Malus genotypes and various orchard cover crops.

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