Resistance to apple scab (Venturia inaequalis) in apple cultivar breeding has been derived mainly from the Vf gene from Malus floribunda 821, which introgresses horticulturally unfavorable characters. M. sieversii, now thought to be the primary progenitor of M. × domestica, grows wild in many diverse habitats in Central Asia and can have fruit quality comparable to commercial cultivars. Since 1989, four major collections of M. sieversii have been made in Central Asia, where scab is endemic. Some seed collections have been made from trees with superior fruit, that were not infected with scab. Over a 6-year period, 3000 seedlings from 220 wild M. sieversii trees representing 10 diverse ecosystems in Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have been inoculated with conidia of five races and two wild types of V. inaequalis. Suspensions (270,000 conidia/ml) were applied to 4- to 8-leaved seedlings, which were incubated for 48 h at 19°C with constant leaf wetness. Symptoms for three resistant reactions were assessed 2 to 4 weeks after inoculation: A = chlorosis with crinkling (Vf type reaction); B = stellate necrotic lesions (Vr type reaction), and N = large necrotic areas (uncharacterized resistant reaction). Results indicated that nearly 20% of the seedlings showed one or more of the resistant reactions. The range of resistance within seedling populations from each of the 220 single-tree sources ranged from 0% to 75%. Significant differences existed among seedlings from each of the ecosystems. Most resistance reactions appeared to be similar to those observed for Vr from “Russian seedling.” Resistant selections with superior horticultural traits may constitute a genepool for increased efficiency of breeding scab-resistant cvs. This genepool may also be useful to address the breakdown of resistance to V. inaequalis race 6.
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