Genetic variance and breeding values for resistance to a wind-borne disease [Sphaerotheca macularis (Wallr. ex Fr.)] in strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) estimated by exploring mixed and spatial models and pedigree information
A mixed model approach was used to estimate variance components and heritabilities for resistance to powdery mildew, a wind-borne disease in strawberry. In order to improve precision in the statistical computations, spatial error control effects were included to account for systematic environmental variations in the large field trials. Pedigree information was included where feasible. Seedling families obtained from an incomplete 63-by-63 diallel cross were grown at six locations and scored subjectively for mildew attack three times during the growing season. The 63 parents included both European and American cultivars as well as advanced selections from various breeding programmes. A total of 298 full-sib families were realized, including 26 reciprocal families. No reciprocal differences were found. On a plot-mean basis, the broad-sense heritability was found to be intermediate, H2=0.44−0.50, depending on whether the pedigree information was included in the model or not. The increase was mainly due to a substantial increase in the additive variance component. Likewise, the narrow-sense heritability increased from h2=0.39 to h2=0.45 when the pedigree information was included, while the ratio of the specific combining ability variance to the general combining ability variance fell from 13% to 10%. The predicted breeding values of the 63 parents demonstrate that important cultivars such as Elsanta and Korona are unlikely to produce progenies with a high degree of resistance. On the other hand, the Norwegian cultivar Solprins, the Canadian cultivar Kent and the Italian cultivar Patty appeared to give highly resistant progeny. At the full-sib level, the estimated disease scores ranged from 1.15 (Kent × Induka) to 4.19 (Cavendish × Avanta), revealing a huge range of variation for powdery mildew resistance available for selection.