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A candidate gene for fire blight resistance in Malus × robusta 5 is coding for a CC–NBS–LRR

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Fire blight is the most important bacterial disease in apple (Malus ×domestica) and pear (Pyrus communis) production. Today, the causal bacterium Erwinia amylovora is present in many apple- and pear-growing areas. We investigated the natural resistance of the wild apple Malus ×robusta 5 against E. amylovora, previously mapped to linkage group 3. With a fine-mapping approach on a population of 2,133 individuals followed by phenotyping of the recombinants from the region of interest, we developed flanking markers useful for marker-assisted selection. Open reading frames were predicted on the sequence of a BAC spanning the resistance locus. One open reading frame coded for a protein belonging to the NBS–LRR family. The in silico investigation of the structure of the candidate resistance gene against fire blight of M. ×robusta 5, FB_MR5, led us hypothesize the presence of a coiled-coil region followed by an NBS and an LRR-like structure with the consensus ‘LxxLx[IL]xxCxxLxxL’. The function of FB_MR5 was predicted in agreement with the decoy/guard model, that FB_MR5 monitors the transcribed RIN4_MR5, a homolog of RIN4 of Arabidopsis thaliana that could interact with the previously described effector AvrRpt2EA of E. amylovora.

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We acknowledge the Genetic Diversity Center of ETH Zurich, Switzerland, for sequencing, fragment analysis and bioinformatics support, as well as LeRoux P-M and Baumgartner I from Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil (Switzerland) and Malnoy M from FEM/IASMA, Italy, for technical support. For financial funding, we thank the Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG of Switzerland (project: ZUEFOS) as well as the D-A-CH (German–Austrian–Swiss project: 310030L_130811).

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Correspondence to Cesare Gessler.

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Communicated by E. Dirlewanger

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Fahrentrapp, J., Broggini, G.A.L., Kellerhals, M. et al. A candidate gene for fire blight resistance in Malus × robusta 5 is coding for a CC–NBS–LRR. Tree Genetics & Genomes 9, 237–251 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-012-0550-3

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  • Erwinia amylovora
  • Positional cloning
  • Fine mapping
  • QTL analysis
  • R gene
  • Apple breeding