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S. Arulsekar and F. A. Bliss

Studies of genetic variation at the DNA level in the tree fruit and nut crop species of Prunus have been very limited. Recently molecular markers based on random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers have been shown to be highly useful and efficient gene markers in other plant and animal species. We have used a total of 50 primers (10-mers) with arbitrary nucleotide sequence to identify cultivars of cherry, plum, apricot, peach and almond. A total of 120 accessions of different cultivars were assayed. The variation revealed by RAPD markers was highly species specific in the five Prunus species examined. High levels of polymorphism were observed for almond cultivars whereas sweet cherry revealed the lowest levels of polymorphism for the RAPD primers examined. The implications of these results in the germplasm diversity in the cultivated species of Prunus will be discussed.

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F.A. Bliss and Ali A. Almehdi

Seedlings of Prunus mahaleb are often used as rootstocks for sweet cherry (P. avium) scion cultivars in commercial orchards. While they are desirable based on ease of propagation and economical production of nursery stock, seedlings may be variable resulting in nonuniform compound trees, and they are susceptible to several important diseases. Seedling sources have shown substantial variability for population uniformity of plant growth, and reaction to crown gall, powdery mildew and Phytophthora root rot. Segregating families also vary for pollen fertility, inbreeding response and control of scion growth. Multiple screening for favorable trait combinations is underway to develop improved sources of cherry rootstocks.

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Ali A. Almehdi and F.A. Bliss

Crown gall incited by Agrobacterium tumifaciens is an important problem for nursery and field production of stone fruit and nut crops. Genotypes reportedly differ for crown gall reaction, but there is little information about resistance of Prunus accessions used as rootstocks. From among four wild-type strains of A. tumifaciens-virulent on apricot and almond, K12 was selected for inoculation of 6-month-old seedlings of cherry, plum, peach, almond, apricot, and miscellaneous species. The large majority of seedlings were very susceptible to crown gall, but some had few or no galls. Cherry, especially some lines of P. mahaleb, showed the most resistant or moderately resistant seedlings, while some accessions of plum, especially P. cerasifera, P. angustifolia, and P. insititia had the most resistant seedlings. Plants with different reactions were propagated to determine adult plant resistance and to study the heritability of crown gall reaction.

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M. L. Meyer and F. A. Bliss

Kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) is a functionally dioecious plant where fruit size is dependent on number of seeds set. Pollen fertility was estimated in 1990 and 1991 by percentage stainability and percentage germinability in vitro. Profiles of the isozymes AAT, GPI and PGM were used to assess if any large differences in pollen fertility could be attributed to genotypic variation. Based on these three isozymes, eight different genotypes were discovered. Although significant differences were found among vines within orchards and among orchards, all vines can be considered good pollenizers (stainability > 87%). A positive correlation was found in 1991 between percentage stainability and percentage germination.

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Marilyn L. Warburton and F. A. Bliss

Genetic linkage maps for many organisms are being produced using molecular markers. The utility of these maps depends on the ability to place genes of known, important effects on the map. It is often useful lo saturate the chromosome around these loci with many linked molecular markers. This study used Bulked Segregant Analysis and Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA to identify linked markers to loci in peach, Prunus persica L. Batch and almond Prunus dulcis Mill populations. Linkages to isozyme loci were first sought to test the suitability of this technique to long-lived perrenials. Several RAPD markers were found to be linked to three isozyme loci in a segregating F3 population from a peach × almond cross. PAPD markers have also been identified which are linked to the yellow-flesh locus of peach in a heterozygous peach population. Thus, this method has proven useful for identifying molecular marker linkages to important loci in peach and almond. These RAPDs may now be placed on a linkage map generated in our lab using a peach/almond hybrid population which will allow these loci to be studied and manipulated more easily in a breeding program.

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F.A. Bliss, J.C. Rosas, and P.A.A. Pereira.

The discovery of bruchid resistance in wild beans and the demonstration that theArcelin protein is responsible for the resistance, provide an opportunity to develop resistant cultivars of common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris L. Arcelin expression is controlled by multiple alleles, which impart different levels of insect resistance. In field tests in Honduras and Brazil, backcross-derived lines with the Arl-1 allele were most resistant, especially to Mexican bean weevil. Seed mixtures of 0.80 Arl-1:0.20 susceptible and equal amounts of Arl-1,Arl-2, and Arl-3, and Arl-4 containing seeds showed resistanc elevels and seed yields similar to lines homogeneous for Arl-1. Breeding lines uniform for appearance and agronomic performance, but heterogenous for resistance genes are being tested as potential new dry bean cultivars having stable insect resistance.

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F.A. Bliss, P.L. Schuerman, A.A. Almehdi, A.M. Dandekar, and N. Bellaloui

Crown gall is an important disease of many fruit and nut crops, but little is known about sources of resistance. We screened germplasm from Prunus armeniaca L., P. angustifolia Marsh., P. argentia L., P. avium L., P. besseyi Bailey, P. bokhariensis Schneid., P. brigantica L., P. cerasifera Ehrh., P. cerasus L., P. dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb, P. fruiticosa Pall., P. hortulana Bailey, P. insititia L., P. japonica Thunb., P. mahaleb L., P. persica (L.) Batsch, P. serotina Ehrh., P. simonii Carr., P. sogdiana L., and P. webbii (Spach) Vieh. When either main stems or lateral branches of seedlings were inoculated with strains K12 and C58 of Agrobacterium tumefaciens (Smith and Townsend) Conn., the incidence of resistance was less than 10% except in some accessions of P. mahaleb L. where up to 30% of the plants were resistant. Some resistant plants were identified in other species, with P. insititia L. being the most promising. Symptoms based on presence and size of galls should be allowed to develop for up to 90 days after inoculation to reduce the likelihood of misclassifying plants as resistant when they are slightly susceptible.