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Ying Li, Xiao-Li Hu, Robert N. Trigiano, Herbert Aldwinckle and Zong-Ming (Max) Cheng

Apple blotch caused by Alternaria alternata apple pathotype is a severe disease of apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh) occurring throughout the world, especially in eastern Asia. Phenotypic and genetic information about resistance/susceptibility of apple germplasm to this disease will be extremely valuable for selecting and developing new disease resistant cultivars. In this study, 110 apple cultivars obtained from the USDA apple germplasm in Geneva, NY, were evaluated for their resistance/susceptibility to apple blotch by field surveys, and inoculation of detached leaves with a suspension of germinated conidia of A. alternata apple pathotype. Disease incidence were different among the cultivars and categorized into resistant (R), moderately resistant (MR), or susceptible (S). Two molecular markers, S428, a random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) marker associated with disease resistance, and a simple sequence repeat (SSR or microsatellite) marker CH05g07, linked to susceptibility were used to correlate the phenotypes expressed in field surveys and laboratory inoculations. The detection using either the S428 marker or the CH05g07 marker in 50 common breeding cultivars was consistent with R or S traits except for ‘Bisbee’ and ‘Priscilla’. These two cultivars were MR to apple blotch through phenotyping. However, SSR markers were detected, but RAPD markers were not and therefore were considered susceptible. Combined with the record of resistance to fire blight from Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), ‘Dayton’, ‘Mildew Immune Seedling’, ‘Puregold’, and ‘Pumpkin Sweet’ were highly resistant to both diseases and considered as the best choices of parents for stacking resistance to multiple diseases in breeding program.