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Homologs of the FB_MR5 fire blight resistance gene of Malus ×robusta 5 are present in other Malus wild species accessions

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Breeding for fire blight resistance is a major goal of nearly all apple breeding programs worldwide. Resources for resistance can be found in Malus wild species accession such as Malus ×robusta 5 (Mr5) which carries the FB_MR5 CC-NBS-LRR fire blight resistance gene. To study the occurrence of FB_MR5 in other genetic resources of Malus, a total of 394 wild species accessions of three international germplasm collections were screened using the markers CH03e03 and FEM18 that flank the FB_MR5 locus of Mr5. Five accessions exhibited the allele sizes linked to FB_MR5 for both markers. All five accessions belong to the species M. ×robusta (Carrière) Rehder. In addition, several accessions of other closely related Malus wild species amplified the 224 bp fragment linked to FEM18 and a slightly larger fragment for CH03e03. The presence and expression of FB_MR5 and homologs in M. ×robusta and four more accessions were further tested using gene-specific primers. Fragments of identical size could be detected in six different genotypes of M. ×robusta. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of alleles of FB_MR5 in the accessions ‘Korea’ and ‘Leucocarpa’. Homologs of FB_MR5 were found in different accessions of Malus prunifolia and Malus baccata, two Malus species closely related to M. ×robusta. Their functionality is suggested by results obtained by artificial shoot inoculation with the pathogen. Based on the results using the simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers CH03e03 and FEM18, the gene-specific primers and the analysis of the ‘Golden Delicious’ whole genome sequence, we assume that FB_MR5 is a unique gene which most likely evolved from M. baccata as the common ancestor of M. ×robusta and M. prunifolia.

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We gratefully acknowledge Gennaro Fazio from the National Germplasm Repository Geneva, New York (USA), and Edward Zurawicz from the Institute of Pomology and Floriculture, Skierniewice (Poland), for sharing bud wood of different accessions of Malus ×robusta. We are also grateful to S. Bartsch, K. Neumann, and N. Richelhof for technical assistance. This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), project numbers AOBJ 574457 and AOBJ 611951.

Data archiving statement

Ten homolog nucleotide sequences of the fire blight resistance gene FB_MR5 of Malus ×robusta 5 from different Malus wild species were submitted. The accession numbers and a description of the submitted data are listed in Table S2. All sequence data were deposited with the DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL/EBI) Nucleotide Sequence Database and GenBank (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

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Correspondence to Henryk Flachowsky.

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Communicated by D. Chagné

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Wöhner, T., Szentgyörgyi, E., Peil, A. et al. Homologs of the FB_MR5 fire blight resistance gene of Malus ×robusta 5 are present in other Malus wild species accessions. Tree Genetics & Genomes 12, 2 (2016).

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