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  • Author or Editor: Amy F. Iezzoni x
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The sour cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) industry in the United States is a monoculture of a 400-year-old cultivar from France named `Montmorency'. To provide a solid germplasm base to breed alternatives to `Montmorency', cherry germplasm was systematically collected over a 15-year period from its ancestral home in Central and Eastern Europe and introduced to the U.S. The strategy of germplasm collection using pollen, seed and budwood importation of highly quarantined species is discussed. Germplasm resulting from this effort is highlighted as well as an example of commercial success. Finally, the “recycling” of this immense germplasm collection to search for dwarfing precocious rootstocks for sweet cherry is described.

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Abstract

Michigan State Univ. (MSU) has a long history of rendering outstanding service to the citizens of Michigan, the nation, and the world. Founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, the teaching institution soon began its tripartite mission of instruction, research, and public service. In 1862, the college became a prototype for the 68 land-grant colleges established under the Morrill Act. Now, 132 years later, MSU has 11 baccalaureate-granting colleges that offer more than 125 programs, many of these offering multiple fields of concentration, and an enrollment of ≈42,000 students.

Open Access

Bloom times were evaluated for seedlings from four full-sib and 14 open-pollinated families of sour cherry (Prunus cerasus L.). Time of anthesis for individual seedlings ranged over 17and 16-day periods in 1989 and 1990, respectively. In both years, most seedlings bloomed later than `Montmorency', the only commercially important sour cherry cultivar in the United States. `Pitic de Iasi', the parent of the latest-blooming family, is a natural interspecific hybrid between sour cherry and the cold-hardy Russian ground cherry (P. fruticosa Pall.). Hybridization between sour and ground cherry and intense selection pressure in the colder areas of the sour cherry habitat may have favored selection of the late-blooming character.

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Fruit set in sweet (Prunus avium L.) and sour cherry (P. cerasus L.) is frequently less than adequate for profitable production despite the availability of compatible pollen and abundant flowers. When fruit set consistently falls below acceptable levels, growers may attempt to increase fruit set by increasing the availability of compatible pollen. We describe the use of the self-incompatibility locus (S-locus) as a genetic marker to quantify the relative contributions of competing pollen sources in achieving fruit set in ‘Balaton™’ sour cherry. Pollen race experiments were conducted to determine if nonself-pollen provided in a pollen mixture was more competitive than self-pollen in achieving fruit set in ‘Balaton™’. We further investigated what pollen set the ‘Balaton™’ crop in two commercial ‘Balaton™’ orchards where multiple potential pollinators were planted in adjacent orchards. S-allele genotyping using DNA extracted from the seed was done to discriminate among the competing pollen sources. The results suggest that in certain environmental conditions, nonself-pollen may be more competitive in achieving fruit set in ‘Balaton™’ than self-pollen. These examples illustrate how seed genotyping can be used to further our understanding of the competitive abilities of different pollen sources in both controlled experiments and production orchards.

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Although maximizing fruit size is critical for profitable sweet cherry (Prunusavium L.) production, little is known about the cellular differences among and between cultivars that contribute to fruit size differences. A wide range of fruit size exists among sweet cherries, and, due to cultural and environmental differences, significant variation exists among genetically identical fruit from the same cultivar. To determine the relative contributions of flesh cell number and cell size to final fruit size in sweet cherry, equatorial sections of three cultivars with a wide range in final average fruit size [`New York 54' (NY54; 1.4 g fresh weight, 11.8 mm diameter), `Emperor Francis' (EF; 6.1 g, 21.0 mm), and `Selah' (12.8 g, 25.5 mm)] were created from mature fruit. Cells intersecting a transverse line were counted and average cell length was calculated. The average cell numbers were significantly different (P ≤ 0.05) between `NY54', `EF', and `Selah' (26.7, 47.4, and 83.2, respectively), indicating that flesh cell number is the major contributor to differences in fruit size between cultivars. Flesh cell numbers of `NY54', `EF', and `Selah' were similar at bloom and increased rapidly for a short duration after fertilization, suggesting a key developmental period for fruit size differences. To determine the contribution of cell number differences to variation in fruit size within a cultivar, fruit from `Bing' and `Regina' trees exhibiting a range of size due to cultural and environmental differences were measured. In both cases, average cell number was not significantly different (P = 0.9, P = 0.3, respectively), while average cell size was (P ≤ 0.05), further indicating fruit flesh cell number is a genetically controlled trait.

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Microspore-derived callus cultures were obtained by anther culture of `Emperor Francis' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.). Branches were removed from the field in January and March and forced in the laboratory. When the microspores reached the uninucleate stage, anthers were placed on modified Quoirin and Lepoivre liquid culture medium containing 4.4 μm BA and 4.5 μm 2,4-D. After ≈60 days, callus that emerged from the anthers was placed on woody plant medium supplemented with 1 μm 2,4-D and 3 μm 2iP and routinely transferred. The resulting 270 callus cultures were screened for two allozymes heterozygous in `Emperor Francis', Pgi-2 and 6-Pgd-1. Of the 270 callus cultures, 154 expressed only one allele each for Pgi-2 and 6-Pgd-1; thus, they were considered microspore-derived. The microspore-derived callus cultures can be used as a linkage mapping population. Chemical names used: 6-benzyladenine (BA); 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D); N6-(2-isopentenyl)-adenine (2iP).

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Systematic studies of the relative importance of apple traits for U.S. apple producers to inform U.S. apple breeding programs have been lacking. To fill this gap, a series of audience surveys with instant feedback at five apple producer meetings across the United States was conducted. The traits included in this study were fruit crispness, juiciness, firmness, flavor, soluble solids concentration, sugar–acid balance, shelf life at retail, freedom from storage disorders, host plant disease resistance, and other fruit and tree traits provided by the producer. Producers rated fruit flavor and crispness as the most important traits for a successful apple cultivar. The relative importance assigned to traits was associated with growing location and producers’ years of experience in the decision-making process of managing apple orchards. This study contributes directly to a larger effort that provides breeding programs with systematic knowledge of trait preferences of supply chain members, including producers, and should result in a more targeted approach to developing and commercializing new apple cultivars.

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The primary goal of this research was to evaluate the relative importance of strawberry fruit quality and plant traits to strawberry producers. Previous studies focus on strawberry traits that impact postharvest quality and marketable yield; however, studies emphasizing the importance of these traits to strawberry producers are scarce. To investigate U.S. strawberry producer trait preferences, a series of audience surveys were conducted at four strawberry producer meetings across the United States. Results indicate that fruit firmness, fruit flavor, and fruit shelf life at retail were the most important fruit/plant traits to producers for a successful strawberry cultivar to possess. Growing state and producers’ years involved in the decision-making process of strawberry farms impacted the relative importance of the fruit/plant traits. This study directly contributes to a larger investigation of supply chain members’ trait preferences to improve the efficiency of Rosaceae fruit crop breeding programs and to increase the likelihood of new cultivar adoption. The overall project should result in a more efficient approach to new strawberry cultivar development and commercialization.

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