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- Author or Editor: James R. McFerson x
To comprehend genetic identity and relatedness in Malus germplasm held in situ and ex situ, we are employing simple sequence repeat (SSR) DNA fragment information in combination with passport and horticultural data. SSRs offer certain advantages for characterizing large arrays of germplasm efficiently. They are abundantly dispersed throughout plant genomes and are exceedingly polymorphic. In addition, they can be PCR-amplified and detected by automated fluorescence-based technology. A size-fractionated DNA library of M. ×domestica cv Golden Delicious was screened to identify SSR loci. Eight loci were found to be reliably informative and were used to prepare locus-specific primer pairs. Characterization of the 75 M. ×domestica accessions included in the core subset of the USDA-ARS Malus germplasm collection revealed six of the eight loci were polymorphic within the array. The number of alleles per locus ranged from two to 21. Throughput was enhanced by multiplexing, allowing simultaneous use of two or three primer pairs. With improved genetic characterization of Malus germplasm, we intend to better develop and relate the core subset to the rest of the collection and to in situ Malus genetic resources. SSR markers appear to be an efficient and reliable tool to expedite this process.
Over 60 rosaceous crop breeding programs exist in North America, but no information has been available on which traits are targeted for selection or how breeders make such decisions. We surveyed all active rosaceous fruit breeding programs in the United States and Canada to determine: 1) the relative importance of over 50 plant traits that breeders select for 2) the likelihood of selection for the most important traits; and 3) the factors influencing breeders’ decisions. A double-bounded Tobit model was used to investigate the effect of supply chain parties, technical and socioeconomic challenges, and crop characteristics on the likelihood of selection for trait clusters. We found that consumer-driven forces positively impact the likelihood of selection for traits more than producer forces and a breeder’s own experience. Technical factors are as important as socioeconomic factors but less important than market-related factors. Our findings provide the first ever evidence that a socioeconomic approach in specialty crop breeding programs can contribute to an improved understanding of the effects of different supply chain factors on breeding programs’ trait priority setting.
This study investigates U.S. peach producers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for potential improvement of peach fruit attributes. Data were collected from 124 U.S. peach producers. The choice experiment and socioeconomic data were analyzed using mixed logit (ML) models to estimate the producer WTP and preferences for peach attributes. The results indicate that the WTP for attribute values vary across peach producers from different production regions (California and eastern United States), with different selling targets (fresh and processed) and different orchard sizes (smaller or larger than 15 acres). These results provide useful information for peach breeders in prioritizing traits in their breeding programs.
Gibberellins inhibit flowering in apple (Malus domestica) and show promise as tools to promote annual bearing. The authors validated the efficacy of gibberellic acid (GA) to reduce return bloom dramatically in two biennial cultivars. ‘Honeycrisp’ fruit treated in 2004 with GA4+7 at 0, 200, 400, or 600 mg·L−1 demonstrated advanced maturity in terms of starch levels, flesh firmness, and titratable acidity, whereas ‘Cameo’ fruit showed variable treatment effects. In 2005, 0, 300, 600, 900, or 1200 mg·L−1 GA4+7 was applied to ‘Cameo’, and fruit maturity was once again unaffected. Two commercial GA products (GA4, GA4+7) were applied in 2005 to ‘Honeycrisp’ at 400 mg·L−1. Both formulations caused fruit to have less flesh firmness and acidity, and increased levels of starch conversion compared with the untreated control at harvest and after 140 d of common storage. All GA treatments in all four trials profoundly diminished flowering in the season after treatment. Results demonstrate differences in sensitivity to GA between the two cultivars.
Rosaceous crops (e.g., almond, apple, apricot, caneberry, cherry, pear, peach, plum, rose, and strawberry) contribute to human health and well-being and collectively constitute the economic backbone of numerous North American rural communities. We conducted a survey of U.S. and Canadian rosaceous fruit crop breeders to assess priority setting in their programs, sources of information for setting priorities, and challenges in making technical and management decisions. Input from producers and consumers was most important in establishing breeding program targets, although respondents’ direct interaction with consumers was not frequent. Breeding targets and management decisions were mostly associated with the breeder’s type of organization, scope and range of crops, and intended use of the crop (fresh, processed, or both).
Consumer preferences for attributes of fresh peach fruit in the United States are largely unknown on a national basis. We used a choice experiment to explore market segmentation based on consumer heterogeneous preference for fruit attributes including external color, blemish, firmness, sweetness, flavor, and price. We collected the data using an online survey with 800 U.S. consumers. Using a latent class logit model, we identified three segments of consumers differing by different sets of preferred quality attributes: experience attribute-oriented consumers, who valued fruit quality (48.8% of the sample); search attribute-oriented consumers, who valued fruit appearance (33.7% of the sample); and balanced consumers, who considered search attributes and experience attributes but who valued each in a balanced way (17.5% of the sample). Each group demonstrated differentiated demographics and purchasing habits. The results have important marketing implications for peach breeders and suppliers.
The USDA–ARS germplasm collection of cold-hardy Vitis held at the Plant Genetic Resources Unit, Geneva, N.Y., has over 1300 clonal accessions maintained as field-grown vines. Security back-up using field-grown or potted vines at remote sites or via in vitro methods is costly. Cryopreservation offers a safe, cost-effective alternative. While we routinely employ cryogenic storage of dormant buds of Malus, dormant buds of Vitis generally do not appear to tolerate the desiccation levels required by our current cryopreservation protocol. Since tolerance to desiccation and cold appear to be correlated in Vitis, we tested desiccation tolerance of 60 germplasm accessions selected from the core subset to represent a range of cold hardiness. Budwood was collected in December 1995 in Geneva, stored at –4°C in sealed bags, and systematically desiccated to 30% and 20% moisture. In some treatments, additional desiccation was imposed by slow freezing to –25°C. Microscopic examination of rehydrated buds indicated 60% of accessions tolerated desiccation as low as 20% moisture. Freeze-desiccation at –25°C after desiccation at –4°C neither increased nor decreased viability in these accessions. Only slight modification so current protocols should be necessary for cryopreservation of this class. Of the remaining accessions, 25% tolerated desiccation to 30% moisture, but 15% were intolerant to any desiccation level tested. Techniques must be developed to successfully cryopreserve both these classes of accessions.
Potential strategies against biennial bearing in apple [Malus × sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] include promotion of return bloom with an “on”-year application of ethephon or inhibition of return bloom with an “off”-year application of gibberellic acid (GA), but the influence of initial crop load on the efficacy of these bioregulators is poorly understood. In 2004 and 2005, six total trials were initiated in which whole trees were manually adjusted shortly before anthesis to one of three levels of crop load (100%, 50%, 0%) in ‘Cameo’, ‘Honeycrisp’, and ‘Fuji’; GA4 + 7 was overlaid on trees of each crop level in four trials and ethephon in two. In all trials, initial crop load was the primary determinant of return bloom; proportional influence on flower density, fruit density, and yield was generally most pronounced at the 50% crop level. GA4 + 7 consistently reduced floral initiation, whereas ethephon promoted it. Flowering responses from a historically alternating ‘Cameo’ trial site showed greater sensitivity to ethephon and less sensitivity to GA4 + 7 than did responses from parallel trials established in an annually bearing ‘Cameo’ block, suggesting a predilection of nascent buds to a specific fate before the influence of exogenous bioregulators or gibberellins from seeds produced in developing fruit. Light crop loads and GA4 + 7 applications generally promoted shoot extension, whereas heavy crops and ethephon had the opposite effect.
Simple-sequence repeats (SSRs) are efficient and informative DNA markers with great potential for germplasm characterization. When used to characterize large arrays of accessions, such as the core subset of the USDA/ARS Malus collection, SSRs may be more effective than other approaches, such as restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD). For example, SSRs can be PCR-amplified and fluorescence-based detected; they also appear to be abundantly disbursed throughout plant genomes and yield abundant polymorphisms in most taxa studied. We are conducting an extensive screening of a size-fractionated library of Malus ×domestica cv. Golden Delicious to identify and characterize selected SSR loci. We are applying genetic information revealed by SSR loci in combination with passport and horticultural data to better comprehend genetic identity and relatedness in Malus germplasm collections and help develop the Malus core subset. Ultimately, application of molecular marker data will permit improved conservation and use of genetic resources.
A diverse collection of 133 Malus species and hybrids from the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Unit's core subset collection was screened with five simple sequence repeat (SSR) primer pairs in order to determine genetic identities and overall levels of genetic variation. The number of amplification products (alleles) per locus (primer pair) in this collection ranged from 6 to 39, with some genotypes showing complex banding patterns of up to four products per locus, suggesting that duplication events may have occurred within the genome. Five primer sets unequivocally differentiated all but 10 pairs of genotypes in the collection, with seven of these 10 being pairs of the same species. Within three of the species holdings surveyed, M. honanensis, M. sargentii, and M. sikkimensis, no genetic variation was revealed with the SSR markers. The discrimination power for the combined loci in this collection was nearly one, which indicates that the likelihood of two genetically different accessions sharing the same alleles at all the loci included in this study would be nearly impossible. Coupled with results from a previous survey of M. × domestica accessions, this finding suggests that with five SSR primer pairs, the majority of the Malus holdings could be assigned a unique fingerprint identity. The average direct count heterozygosity over all loci was 0.620, ranging in value from 0.293 to 0.871 over individual loci. These heterozygosity counts will be compared with a survey of naturally occurring M. sieversii to determine whether current repository holdings are representative of the overall levels of diversity occurring in Malus. Information generated with this study, coupled with passport and horticultural data will inform curatorial decisions regarding deaccessioning of duplicate holdings and plans for future germplasm collections.