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New insights for estimating the genetic value of segregating apple progenies for irregular bearing during the first years of tree production

Durand J.B., Guitton B., Peyhardi J., Holtz Y., Guédon Y., Trottier C., Costes E.. 2013. Journal of Experimental Botany, 64 (16) : p. 5099-5113.

Because irregular bearing generates major agronomic issues in fruit-tree species, particularly in apple, the selection of regular cultivars is desirable. Here, we aimed to define methods and descriptors allowing a diagnostic for bearing behaviour during the first years of tree maturity, when tree production is increasing. Flowering occurrences were collected at whole-tree and (annual) shoot scales on a segregating apple population. At both scales, the number of inflorescences over the years was modelled. Two descriptors were derived from model residuals: a new biennial bearing index, based on deviation around yield trend over years and an autoregressive coefficient, which represents dependency between consecutive yields. At the shoot scale, entropy was also considered to represent the within-tree flowering synchronicity. Clusters of genotypes with similar bearing behaviours were built. Both descriptors at the whole-tree and shoot scales were consistent for most genotypes and were used to discriminate regular from biennial and irregular genotypes. Quantitative trait loci were detected for the new biennial bearing index at both scales. Combining descriptors at a local scale with entropy showed that regular bearing at the tree scale may result from different strategies of synchronization in flowering at the local scale. The proposed methods and indices open an avenue to quantify bearing behaviour during the first years of tree maturity and to capture genetic variations. Their extension to other progenies and species, possible variants of descriptors, and their use in breeding programmes considering a limited number of years or fruit yields are discussed. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : sélection; variété; amélioration génétique; essai de provenances; facteur anthropogène; phénologie; floraison; choix des espèces; production; fruit; malus; arbre fruitier

Thématique : Génétique et amélioration des plantes; Physiologie et biochimie végétales

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