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Thesis of Leandro De Oliveira Lino

"Study of the genetic variability of peach in susceptibility to brown rot during fruit development in relation with changes in physical and biochemical characteristics of the fruit"

Pouriture brune pêche
On Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 9 am in the Garance room of INRA Avignon, Domaine Saint-Paul, Agroparc Site

Brown rot (BR) in peach fruit caused by the fungus Monilinia spp. is a common disease that can provoke as much as 30 to 40% losses of crop. Currently, all cultivated peaches are more or less sensitive to BR. No other alternative than chemical treatment is available, hence fungicide applications are required until pre-harvest. Such applications are damaging the environment and may let residues in fruits. A review of literature was accomplished to compile the knowledge scattered in the literature from many years.

The aim of this study is to investigate the factors of resistance of the fruit to M. laxa at different stages of fruit growth and their genetic control by studying contrasted genotypes and an interspecific peach progeny.

The first focus was made on few cultivars to study the evolution of sensibility of fruits to M. laxa during their development in relation with structural and biochemical characteristics of the fruit, e.g. cuticular conductance, micro-cracks and fruit surface compounds. Some compounds were detected for the first time on peach fruit. The results confirmed that during the stage I immature fruits are susceptible to BR. Fruit cuticular conductance was high probably due to high density of stomata and thin cuticule in formation. In contrary, at pit hardening stage fruits were resistant, cuticular conductance was low and the levels of surface compounds exhibit a peak. When maturity approaches, fruit become susceptible again. With rapid development of the fruit during this stage, the surface compounds were diluted and micro-cracks often appear which resulted in high cuticular conductance. 

At stage I we explored the different physical characteristics of the immature fruit in relation with susceptibility to M. laxa. A hundred of individuals of an interspecific peach progeny called BC2 were characterized through laboratory infection, monitoring of fruit transpiratory losses and estimating stomata density (only for nectarines). Unexpected symptoms (not progressing ‘clear spot’) were observed. The cuticular conductance was significantly linked to the likelihood of infection, but the stomata number had no effect on the likelihood of infection. QTL controlling fruit resistance to BR, cuticular conductance and stomata number have been identified and some co-locations observed.

 At maturity stage we investigated the genetic control of BR resistance together with biochemical compounds of fruit epidermis. For three years, mature fruits from the BC2 progeny were infected with two modalities of infection: spray until runoff in the orchard to measure infection probability and drop in the laboratory conditions in order to observe the characters of beginning, progression and speed of infection. The BC2 progeny displayed high variability for BR resistance. Despite low stability between years, genotypes with high level of resistance were identified. In addition in 2015, we explored the variation in epidermis compounds of fruit within the BC2 progeny. Phenolic compounds, terpenoids and derivatives were quantified by HPLC. The relationship between BR resistance and presence and/or levels of certain epidermis compounds and the genetic control of these compounds were investigated.

BR of peach fruit is a complex problem which is still far from resolved. Progress has been made in the knowledge of structural and biochemical characteristics involved in BR resistance and regions of the genome that could confer certain disease tolerance have been detected. Further work is needed to develop molecular markers for marker assisted selection. The results obtained suggest that solutions for the future lie in associations of tolerant cultivars _ less susceptible to micro-cracks and with high content of epidermis compounds potential inhibitor of the fungus development _ with cultural practices reducing both risks of fruit cracking and occurrence of micro-climatic conditions favorable to BR spread and sporulation.