Novel genetic marker technologies revolutionize apple breeding©
For the past 24 years, my vision and research focus have been to lead the development of modern tools for fruit breeding at Plant & Food Research (PFR). My initial focus was very specific, on apple, however this has expanded, so that our “Mapping & Markers” team of genetic mapping researchers now works on a range of crops, including apple, pear, kiwifruit, peach, apricot, raspberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, hops, and most recently, manuka, applying the same DNA-based technologies to all. We work closely with industry and breeders for each crop, as well as many other PFR and international scientists, including genomics scientists focussing on DNA, those who work on pests and diseases, or fruit characters, such as flavour and texture, using our genetics and genomics expertize to develop tools to “breed better cultivars faster” (van Nocker and Gardiner, 2014) for international consumers and New Zealand growers. I will discuss some of the novel features of the modern apple breeding programme at PFR, which has led the world in applying new fruit breeding technologies. This programme employs marker assisted selection for critical must have characters in large seedling populations, which can include thousands of seedlings, in order to increase the efficiency of developing new apple cultivars with the features sought by consumers. I will discuss in some detail a specific example of how marker assisted selection is being applied by our breeders to speed up the development of rootstock varieties with the very specific characters needed in the rootstocks of tomorrow.
Gardiner, S.E. (2017). Novel genetic marker technologies revolutionize apple breeding©. Acta Hortic. 1174, 23-30