Commercial pear breeding has mainly focused on three species – the European pear which has a buttery texture and high flavour and two Asian species which generally have crisp texture and subtle flavour. The Plant & Food Research interspecific pear breeding program is combining the best of these Asian and European species to develop crisp, juicy and highly-flavoured hybrid cultivars.
Traditional pear cultivar breeding is a lengthy and expensive process. Molecular techniques, such as genome-wide association (GWA) and genomic selection (GS), provide an opportunity to fast-forward the development of high-value cultivars. However, there appears to be no report of genomic-wide association and genomic selection for pear sensory traits – something that limits the opportunities to accelerate breeding cycles.
This study conducted GWA to find the candidate genomic regions for pear fruit traits, including sensory eating quality traits. The study also evaluated the potential to use GS for hybrid populations derived from crosses between Asian and European pears.
Genomic prediction accuracies were moderate, with results from the study suggesting a complex polygenic nature for all ten traits. Extending the research to larger genotype-phenotype datasets is expected to improve the prediction accuracy of fruit phenotypes of untested seedlings.