Detecting QTLs and putative candidate genes involved in budbreak and flowering time in an apple multiparental population

Alix Allard, Marco C.A.M. Bink, Sebastien Martinez, Jean Jacques Kelner, Jean Michel Legave, Mario Di Guardo, Erica A. Di Pierro, François Laurens, Eric W. Van De Weg, Evelyne Costes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


In temperate trees, growth resumption in spring time results from chilling and heat requirements, and is an adaptive trait under global warming. Here, the genetic determinism of budbreak and flowering time was deciphered using five related full-sib apple families. Both traits were observed over 3 years and two sites and expressed in calendar and degree-days. Best linear unbiased predictors of genotypic effect or interaction with climatic year were extracted from mixed linear models and used for quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping, performed with an integrated genetic map containing 6849 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), grouped into haplotypes, and with a Bayesian pedigree-based analysis. Four major regions, on linkage group (LG) 7, LG10, LG12, and LG9, the latter being the most stable across families, sites, and years, explained 5.6-21.3% of trait variance. Co-localizations for traits in calendar days or growing degree hours (GDH) suggested common genetic determinism for chilling and heating requirements. Homologs of two major flowering genes, AGL24 and FT, were predicted close to LG9 and LG12 QTLs, respectively, whereas Dormancy Associated MADs-box (DAM) genes were near additional QTLs on LG8 and LG15. This suggests that chilling perception mechanisms could be common among perennial and annual plants. Progenitors with favorable alleles depending on trait and LG were identified and could benefit new breeding strategies for apple adaptation to temperature increase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2875-2888
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Climate change
  • DAM genes
  • dormancy
  • flowering genes
  • Malus×domestica (Borkh)
  • pedigree-based analysis
  • phenology
  • QTL


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