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Population development by phenotypic selection with subsequent marker assisted selection for line extraction in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L

Author(s): Fan Z, Robbins MD, Staub JE


Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.; 2n = 2x = 14) has a narrow genetic base, and commercial yield of US processing cucumber has plateaued in the last 15 years. Yield may be increased by altering plant architecture to produce unique early flowering (days to flower, DTF), female (gynoecious, GYN), highly branched (multiple lateral branching, MLB), long-fruited (length:diameter ratio, L:D) cultivars with diverse plant statures. The genetic map position of QTL conditioning these quantitatively inherited yield component traits is known, and linked molecular markers may have utility in marker-assisted selection (MAS) programs to increase selection efficiency, and effectiveness. Therefore, a base population (C0), created by intermating four unique but complementary lines, was subjected to three cycles (C1-C3) of phenotypic (PHE) mass selection for DTF, GYN, MLB, and L:D. In tandem, two cycles of marker-assisted backcrossing for these traits began with selected C2 progeny (C2S) to produce families (F1[i.e., C2S x C2S], and BC(1) [i.e., F1 x C2S]) for line extraction, and for comparative analysis of gain from selection by PHE selection, and MAS. Frequencies of marker loci were used to monitor selection-dependent changes during PHE selection, and MAS. Similar gain from selection was detected as a result of PHE selection, and MAS for MLB (approximately 0.3 branches/cycle), and L:D (approximately 0.1 unit increase/cycle) with concomitant changes in frequency at linked marker loci. Although genetic gain was not realized for GYN during PHE selection, the percentage of female flowers of plants subjected to MAS was increased (5.6-9.8% per cycle) depending upon the BC1 population examined. Selection-dependent changes in frequency were also detected at marker loci linked to female sex expression during MAS. MAS operated to fix favorable alleles that were not exploited by PHE selection in this population, indicating that MAS could be applied for altering plant architecture in cucumber to improve its yield potential.

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