Breeding and genetics of disease resistance in temperate fruit trees: challenges and new opportunities

Awais Khan, Schuyler S. Korban

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Climate change, large monocultures of disease-susceptible cultivars, overuse of pesticides, and the emergence of new pathogens or pathogenic strains causing economic losses are all major threats to our environment, health, food, and nutritional supply. Temperate tree fruit crops belonging to the Rosaceae family are the most economically important and widely grown fruit crops. These long-lived crops are under attack from many different pathogens, incurring major economic losses. Multiple chemical sprays to control various diseases annually is a common practice, resulting in significant input costs, as well as environmental and health concerns. Breeding for disease resistance has been undertaken primarily in pome fruit crops (apples and pears) for a few fungal and bacterial diseases, and to a lesser extent in some stone fruit crops. These breeding efforts have taken multiple decades due to the biological constraints and complex genetics of these tree fruit crops. Over the past couple of decades, major advances have been made in genetic and physical mapping, genomics, biotechnology, genome sequencing, and phenomics, along with accumulation of large germplasm collections in repositories. These valuable resources offer opportunities to make significant advances in greatly reducing the time needed to either develop new cultivars or modify existing economic cultivars for enhanced resistance to multiple diseases. This review will cover current knowledge, challenges, and opportunities in breeding for disease resistance in temperate tree fruit crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3961-3985
Number of pages25
JournalTheoretical and Applied Genetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Biotechnology


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