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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 80 (3) 117-127 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2015/80.3.4
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2015 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Susceptibility to blue mold caused by Penicillium expansum in apple cultivars adapted to a cool climate

I.I. Tahir1, H. Nybom1, M. Ahmadi-Afzadi1, K. Røen2, J. Sehic1 and D. Røen2
1 Department of Plant Breeding, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
2 Graminor AS, Njøs, Norway

Each year, fungal storage rots cause serious losses in the apple industry. The problem is especially prominent in production systems with little or no use of pre- or postharvest fungicides. Consequently, a high level of tolerance to storage rots is very desirable. A set of 81 apple cultivars were studied in two different production areas (Njøs in Norway and Balsgård in Sweden), during two seasons (2012 and 2013), to investigate genetically determined susceptibility to blue mold, Penicillium expansum. Lesion diameter, measured on symptoms developing after artificial inoculation with this pathogen and cold storage for 6–12 weeks, and decay index, calculated as lesion diameter divided by number of weeks in storage, varied significantly among cultivars. Associations between disease evaluation data and different fruit characteristics were also investigated. Decay index was negatively correlated with harvest date, estimated as number of days since full bloom, and fruit firmness at harvest. A positive correlation was instead found between decay index and amount of fruit softening during storage. These results provide data about genetically determined level of resistance to blue mold for apple cultivars adapted to a cool climate, and will be valuable for further research on the genetic control of resistance, as well as for choice of breeding material.

Keywords apple, Malus domestica, disease resistance, fruit firmness, storage rot

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • Fungal decay, including blue mold caused by Penicillium expansum, is one of the major causes of postharvest losses of apples. Different cultivars vary in susceptibility, and fruit characteristics like firmness and chemical composition seem to affect fruit resistance to these pathogens.
What are the new findings?
  • Susceptibility to P. expansum was determined in 81 apple cultivars grown in Sweden and Norway, and suitable for a colder climate. Level of susceptibility was negatively correlated with number of days from full bloom to ripening and with fruit firmness at harvest.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • The manuscript provides information on cultivar susceptibility which is immediately use-ful for choice of cultivars for low-impact production and for choice of material to use in apple breeding programs.

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Received: 11 September 2014 | Revised: 4 February 2015 | Accepted: 7 February 2015 | Published: 17 June 2015 | Available online: 17 June 2015

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