, Volume 183, Issue 1, pp 39-47
Date: 20 May 2011

Interspecific hybridization of fig (Ficus carica L.) and Ficus erecta Thunb., a source of Ceratocystis canker resistance

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Ceratocystis canker, which is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata Ellis et Halsted, is one of the most severe diseases of the common fig (Ficus carica L.). In contrast, the wild fig species F. erecta Thunb. is resistant to this fungus. We performed interspecific hybridization between the common fig (seed parent) and F. erecta (pollen parent) through artificial pollination. Even though hybrid seeds showed high germination rates, the seedling survival rates were low. All of the seedlings contained the expected simple sequence repeat (SSR) alleles from both common fig and F. erecta at each of the three loci tested, thus confirming the parent–offspring relationships of the interspecific hybrids. The leaf morphological characters of hybrid seedlings were intermediate between those of the parents. Cuttings of cultivars of common fig, F. erecta, and hybrid seedlings were inoculated with C. fimbriata by direct wounding of the shoot. All of the common fig cultivars tested withered and died within 10 weeks. Leaves and shoots of the hybrids and F. erecta were healthy 100 days after inoculation. Our results suggest that interspecific hybridization between the common fig and the wild species F. erecta is a breakthrough in the breeding of a new fig rootstock source with resistance to Ceratocystis canker.