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Craig A. Ledbetter

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Craig A. Ledbetter and Mark S. Sisterson

A multiyear study was conducted in California's San Joaquin Valley to examine variability of carpological characteristics of the popular Nonpareil almond cultivar. Samples of ‘Nonpareil’ almond fruit were collected from a single orchard during seven consecutive harvests and evaluated for 19 specific carpological characters. Harvest year significantly affected all measured variables. Of the evaluated characters, fruit weight was the most variable between years, whereas kernel percentage was one of the least variable characters. As a result of year-to-year variability in carpological characters, the relationship between kernel weight and all other measured variables was investigated to determine if regression models could better describe kernels. Kernel weight best explained variability in kernel surface area (R 2 = 0.943) with year-to-year variability having only a minor affect on the relationship. The results indicate that ‘Nonpareil’ almonds cannot be described using simple metrics and that definitive metrics must be able to account for differences among years.

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Craig A. Ledbetter and Elizabeth E. Rogers

Seedling peach (Prunus persica Batsch) and clonal peach–almond hybrids are popular rootstock choices for commercial almond growers in California. In this study, clonal replicates of peach and almond [P. dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb] rootstock germplasm and a first-generation peach–almond hybrid created from them were challenged with Xylella fastidiosa isolate M23. Clonal replicates were needle-inoculated with M23 and maintained in a greenhouse environment for a growing season. Typical almond leaf scorch disease symptoms began to develop on M23-inoculated almonds 11 weeks after inoculation. No leaf scorch symptoms were observed on M23-inoculated peach or peach–almond hybrids. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction revealed consistent levels of X. fastidiosa DNA among inoculated almond replicates, whereas X. fastidiosa DNA was undetectable in replicates of peach–almond hybrids. A trace level of X. fastidiosa DNA was detected in a single peach replicate, and statistical analysis demonstrated that this level differed significantly (P < 0.001) from that detected in almond replicates. Selected almonds were further sampled sequentially along their meristematic axes to examine bacterial titer throughout the trees. Selected almond trees differed significantly (P = 0.036) in bacterial titer, but no significant differences were noted in levels of X. fastidiosa from different vertical sections of the main growth axes. The results suggest that peach and peach–almond hybrid rootstock germplasm used by commercial almond tree nurseries in California are not primary inoculum sources for X. fastidiosa-induced diseases.

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Elizabeth E. Rogers and Craig A. Ledbetter

To facilitate development of Prunus L. rootstocks with desirable agronomic traits, domesticated peach (Prunus persica) and almond (P. dulcis) were crossed with wild almond relatives. This work reports that a hybrid from a P. webbii × P. persica cv. Harrow Blood cross is susceptible to almond leaf scorch disease (ALSD). ALSD is caused by the fastidious, xylem-limited bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. The P. webbii × ‘Harrow Blood’ hybrid, along with its parents, was inoculated with two ALSD-inducing strains (X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa strain M23 and subsp. multiplex strain Dixon). Both X. fastidiosa strains grew to high titer in the susceptible P. webbii parent and in the interspecific hybrid; defoliation was also observed. As expected, ‘Harrow Blood’ did not exhibit defoliation symptoms or support growth of X. fastidiosa. This result contrasts with earlier work demonstrating that a P. persica × P. dulcis hybrid is not a suitable host for X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa M23. It appears that the genetic basis of resistance/susceptibility differs between a P. persica × P. dulcis cross and the P. webbii × P. persica cross reported here. Understanding the degree of susceptibility to X. fastidiosa in complex hybrids of subgenus Amygdalus should be an important part of rootstock development.

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Craig A. Ledbetter and Sharon J. Peterson

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Kendra Baumgartner, Phillip Fujiyoshi, Craig Ledbetter, Roger Duncan and Daniel A. Kluepfel

Prunus dulcis (almond) is one of the most susceptible horticultural crops to Armillaria root disease. Resistance to Armillaria mellea and Armillaria tabescens, the geographically isolated causal fungi that attack almond and closely related Prunus persica (peach), has been evaluated in studies of almond, peach, and other Prunus rootstocks, but not in one comprehensive study. We evaluated the relative resistance to A. mellea and A. tabescens of six clonally propagated almond and peach rootstocks (Bright’s 5, Empyrean 1, Hansen 536, Krymsk 1, Krymsk 86, and Lovell) in comparison with that of clonally propagated Marianna 2624 rootstock (resistant control) and clonally propagated Nemaguard rootstock (susceptible control). Replicate clones used in the growth chamber assay were micropropagated and rooted in vitro before inoculating the culture medium with Armillaria spp. At 2 months, the most resistant and susceptible rootstocks were Krymsk 86 and Hansen 536, respectively, with 27% vs. 89% mortality. This finding was consistent among two isolates of A. mellea and one isolate of A. tabescens in three replicate experiments. Our finding of low mortality among Krymsk 86, Krymsk 1, and Marianna 2624, which all share Prunus cerasifera (Myrobalan plum) parentage, is consistent with past reports of resistance in the field to A. mellea, but conflicts with reports of susceptibility to A. tabescens. Resistance to A. tabescens of genotypes with Myrobalan plum parentage in our assay may reflect the simplified rooting environment of tissue culture medium, which does not perfectly mimic a field trial, in which biotic and abiotic factors may affect host resistance. Nonetheless, our growth chamber assay may provide a more rapid alternative to identify sources of resistance for breeding and to screen progeny of such crosses.

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Ksenija Gasic, John E. Preece and David Karp

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Ksenija Gasic and John E. Preece