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Mobashwer Alam, Craig Hardner, Catherine Nock, Katie O’Connor and Bruce Topp

The Hawaiian cultivars Keaau (HAES660) and Mauka (HAES741) were selected by the University of Hawaii—released in 1966 and 1977, respectively—and have been used extensively in macadamia orchards throughout the world. Recent molecular evidence suggests that these two cultivars are almost identical genetically; however, commercially they have been considered phenotypically different. This study reviews available molecular, historical, and phenotypic evidence to examine the hypothesis that these two cultivars are the same genotype. Phenotypic variability for morphological traits was observed in a replicated trial at Wolvi, QLD. Historical evidence suggests that both ‘HAES660’ and ‘HAES741’ were derived from the same orchard. We identified strong genetic and phenotypic similarities between these cultivars, with variability in some simple traits. This study provides evidence that these two cultivars are isogenic or near isogenic and may have been derived from the same plant source.

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Katie O’Connor, Ben Hayes, Craig Hardner, Mobashwer Alam and Bruce Topp

Current macadamia breeding programs involve a lengthy and laborious two-stage selection process: evaluation of a large number of unreplicated seedling progeny, followed by replicated trials of clonally propagated elite seedlings. Yield component traits, such as nut-in-shell weight (NW), kernel weight (KW), and kernel recovery (KR) are commercially important, are more easily measured than yield, and have a higher heritability. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) combined with marker-assisted selection offers an opportunity to reduce the time of candidate evaluation. In this study, a total of 281 progeny from 32 families, and 18 of their 29 parents have been genotyped for 7126 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. A GWAS was performed using ASReml with 4352 SNPs. We found five SNPs significantly associated with NW, nine with KW, and one with KR. Further, three of the top 10 markers for NW and KW were shared between the two traits. Future macadamia breeding could involve prescreening of individuals for desired traits using these significantly associated markers, with only predicted elite individuals continuing to the second stage of selection, thus potentially reducing the selection process by 7 years.

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Benjamin D. Toft, Mobashwer M. Alam, John D. Wilkie and Bruce L. Topp

The vigorous growth and large canopy size of commercial macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia, M. tetraphylla, and hybrids) cultivars generally restricts macadamia orchards to low-density planting. Little is known of the detailed interactions between plant architecture and yield components specific to macadamia. This chapter examines how dependent traits such as canopy size and yield might be determined by direct and indirect interactions between traits at different scales within the canopy. Fifteen genotypes (n = 3) were phenotyped in two growing seasons for architectural and reproductive traits, around the age of their transition from juvenility to maturity. Genotypes varied in canopy volume, cumulative yield, and canopy efficiency, and particular genotypes with low canopy volume and high yield were considered potentially useful for future high-density orchard systems. There was high variability in architectural, floral, and yield traits at multiple scales. Direct and indirect effects of architectural traits on the variability of yield and tree size were quantified using path coefficient analysis. Canopy volume was subject to positive direct effects from trunk cross-sectional area (TCA; 0.72), lateral branching (0.24), and branch unit (BU) length (0.24). Other traits showed significant indirect effects with canopy volume via TCA, such as branch cross-sectional area (BCA; 0.43), BU length (0.40), lateral branching (0.35), and internode length (0.32). Branch angle had a significant indirect negative effect on canopy volume via BU length (−0.11). Nut number had the strongest direct effect on yield (0.97), and this relationship was significantly indirectly influenced by raceme number (0.47), raceme length (0.50), nut number per raceme (0.33), canopy volume (0.37), and branch angle (0.35). In these relatively young trees, early yield was directly and positively influenced by canopy volume (0.12), presumably due to increased early light interception, which suggests that early canopy vigor contributes to early yield. This study suggests that yield and canopy size are determined by complex phenotypic interactions between architectural traits at different scales. Therefore, preplanting (i.e., scion and rootstock selections) and postplanting (i.e., pruning and training) manipulations that specifically manage architectural traits such as shoot length, branching, branch angle, raceme length, and nuts per raceme may result in the creation of efficient macadamia canopies.