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Plant Physiol. 2012 Nov;160(3):1613-29. doi: 10.1104/pp.112.203786. Epub 2012 Sep 21.

Allelic variation in paralogs of GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase is a major determinant of vitamin C concentrations in apple fruit.

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  • 1Laboratory for Fruit Breeding and Biotechnology, Department Biosystems, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, B-3001 Heverlee, Belgium.


To identify the genetic factors underlying the regulation of fruit vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid [AsA]) concentrations, quantitative trait loci (QTL) studies were carried out in an F1 progeny derived from a cross between the apple (Malus × domestica) cultivars Telamon and Braeburn over three years. QTL were identified for AsA, glutathione, total antioxidant activity in both flesh and skin tissues, and various quality traits, including flesh browning. Four regions on chromosomes 10, 11, 16, and 17 contained stable fruit AsA-QTL clusters. Mapping of AsA metabolic genes identified colocations between orthologs of GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase (GGP), dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR), and nucleobase-ascorbate transporter within these QTL clusters. Of particular interest are the three paralogs of MdGGP, which all colocated within AsA-QTL clusters. Allelic variants of MdGGP1 and MdGGP3 derived from the cultivar Braeburn parent were also consistently associated with higher fruit total AsA concentrations both within the mapping population (up to 10-fold) and across a range of commercial apple germplasm (up to 6-fold). Striking differences in the expression of the cv Braeburn MdGGP1 allele between fruit from high- and low-AsA genotypes clearly indicate a key role for MdGGP1 in the regulation of fruit AsA concentrations, and this MdGGP allele-specific single-nucleotide polymorphism marker represents an excellent candidate for directed breeding for enhanced fruit AsA concentrations. Interestingly, colocations were also found between MdDHAR3-3 and a stable QTL for browning in the cv Telamon parent, highlighting links between the redox status of the AsA pool and susceptibility to flesh browning.

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