Resolving the parentage of the apple cultivar 'Meran'
Dalla Via J
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In the mid-1970s, a new apple variety named 'Meran' was discovered in South Tyrol (northern Italy), which harbours the largest continuous apple growing area in Europe. The cultivar was registered for varietal protection and patented in several countries, and was declared to be a cross of the varieties 'Golden Delicious' and 'Morgenduft' (synonym 'Rome Beauty'). The parentage of 'Meran' has, however, been questioned, and the present study aimed to assess the descent of this cultivar by the combined use of molecular genetic and bioinformatic tools. Five accessions of 'Meran' were collected from three different European germplasm collections and analysed at 14 variable microsatellite DNA loci. Subsequently, computer software was used to allocate the most likely parent pair from a set of cultivars representative for the apple growing area of South Tyrol in 1975. The molecular genetic data clearly excluded 'Morgenduft' as a gene donor to 'Meran' and provided strong evidence that 'Meran' is a cross of the cultivars 'Golden Delicious' and 'Jonathan', confirming previous assumptions based on morphological traits of the tree and fruit. © 2012 The Author(s).
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