Genetic parameters for apple (Malus x domestica) fruit external traits (fruit size, ground colour, proportion of over colour and attractiveness) and sensory traits (firmness, crispness, texture, juiciness, flavour, sugar, acidity and global taste) were estimated using 2,207 pedigreed genotypes from breeding programmes in six European countries. Data were scored for 3 years and four periods during storage. Analyses were performed with a restricted maximum likelihood method using VCE 5.1.2 software. Heritability estimates ranged from medium to high for instrumental traits. Genetic correlations between firmness and sugar were medium and low between firmness and acidity. Sensory traits showed low to high heritability, acidity and flavour being, respectively, the most and the less heritable. Global taste was strongly correlated with texture, juiciness, and flavour and relatively less correlated with crispness and acidity. Sensory sugar and acidity showed highly negative correlations whereas their instrumental measurements showed low and increasing positive correlations from harvest to 4 months post-harvest. Sugar exhibited a higher sensory/instrumental divergence. Conversely, instrumental and sensory firmness were highly correlated. Fruit external characteristics had medium heritability. Fruit attractiveness had highest and lowest correlations with fruit size and ground colour, respectively. Best linear unbiased predictors of breeding values were computed for all genotypes with the software PEST. The results were analysed with regard to the dynamic and the reliability of genetic parameters according to the scoring dates. Original issues of the study and the importance of the obtained results for efficient designs of further apple fruit quality breeding programmes were discussed.
- sensory interpretation