Deciphering the genetic control of fruit texture in apple by multiple family-based analysis and genome-wide association

Mario Di Guardo, Marco C.A.M. Bink, Walter Guerra, Thomas Letschka, Lidia Lozano, Nicola Busatto, Lara Poles, Alice Tadiello, Luca Bianco, Richard G.F. Visser, Eric van de Weg, Fabrizio Costa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Fruit texture is a complex feature composed of mechanical and acoustic properties relying on the modifications occurring in the cell wall throughout fruit development and ripening. Apple is characterized by a large variation in fruit texture behavior that directly impacts both the consumer's appreciation and post-harvest performance. To decipher the genetic control of fruit texture comprehensively, two complementing quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping approaches were employed. The first was represented by a pedigree-based analysis (PBA) carried out on six full-sib pedigreed families, while the second was a genome-wide association study (GWAS) performed on a collection of 233 apple accessions. Both plant materials were genotyped with a 20K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array and phenotyped with a sophisticated high-resolution texture analyzer. The overall QTL results indicated the fundamental role of chromosome 10 in controlling the mechanical properties, while chromosomes 2 and 14 were more associated with the acoustic response. The latter QTL, moreover, showed a consistent relationship between the QTL-estimated genotypes and the acoustic performance assessed among seedlings. The in silico annotation of these intervals revealed interesting candidate genes potentially involved in fruit texture regulation, as suggested by the gene expression profile. The joint integration of these approaches sheds light on the specific control of fruit texture, enabling important genetic information to assist in the selection of valuable fruit quality apple varieties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1451-1466
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Apple
  • Bayesian statistics
  • Fruit texture
  • Genome-wide association study (GWAS)
  • High-resolution phenotyping
  • Pedigree-based analysis (PBA)
  • RT-qPCR
  • SNP

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