Evidence for a Single Locus Controlling Flesh Color, Senescent Leaf Color, and Hypanthium Color in Peach

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 University California, Davis, Kearney Agricultural Center, 9240 S. Riverbend Avenue, Parlier, CA 93648-9774

The Y locus of peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] controls whether a tree will produce fruit with white or yellow flesh. Flesh color has implications for consumer acceptance and nutritional quality, and improved cultivars of both flesh types are actively sought. This paper focuses on evidence that the flesh color locus also controls senescent leaf color (easily observed in the fall) and hypanthium color. In two progeny populations totaling 115 progeny plus their parents, the three traits co-segregated completely. Trees carrying the dominant allele for white flesh had yellow senescent leaves and yellow hypanthia, while homozygous recessive yellow-fleshed types exhibited orange senescent leaves and orange hypanthia. Senescent leaf color was also measured quantitatively, with major colorimetric differences observed between white-fleshed and yellow-fleshed progeny. Senescent leaf hue angle and reflected light wavelengths of 500 to 560 nm were the parameters most affected by the flesh color locus. Results were verified with 10 white-fleshed and 10 yellow-fleshed cultivars. The findings show that the Y locus in peach controls the type and concentration of carotenoids in multiple organs, including fruit, leaves, and flowers. The ability to discriminate between white and yellow flesh color using a simple visual method, applicable in plants not yet at reproductive maturity, is valuable to breeders wanting to save time, growing space, and money.

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