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Genomic prediction of strawberry resistance to postharvest fruit decay caused by the fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea


Gray mold, a disease of strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) caused by the ubiquitous necrotroph Botrytis cinerea, renders fruit unmarketable and causes economic losses in the postharvest supply chain. To explore the feasibility of selecting for increased resistance to gray mold, we undertook genetic and genomic prediction studies in strawberry populations segregating for fruit quality and shelf life traits hypothesized to pleiotropically affect susceptibility. As predicted, resistance to gray mold was heritable but quantitative and genetically complex. While every individual was susceptible, the speed of symptom progression and severity differed. Narrow-sense heritability ranged from 0.38 to 0.71 for lesion diameter (LD) and 0.39 to 0.44 for speed of emergence of external mycelium (EM). Even though significant additive genetic variation was observed for LD and EM, the phenotypic ranges were comparatively narrow and genome-wide analyses did not identify any large-effect loci. Genomic selection (GS) accuracy ranged from 0.28 to 0.59 for LD and 0.37 to 0.47 for EM. Additive genetic correlations between fruit quality and gray mold resistance traits were consistent with prevailing hypotheses: LD decreased as titratable acidity increased, whereas EM increased as soluble solid content decreased and firmness increased. We concluded that phenotypic and GS could be effective for reducing LD and increasing EM, especially in long shelf life populations, but that a significant fraction of the genetic variation for resistance to gray mold was caused by the pleiotropic effects of fruit quality traits that differ among market and shelf life classes.

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