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Although the origin of apple (Malus domestica) is not considered to be from the Mediterranean, its culture in Israel has been known for centuries. It was suggested that apple culture in the area began through the transfer of plants from the region of Armenia thousands of years ago. In an effort to preserve and explore the genetic and breeding potential of the Israeli varieties, a plot was allotted to an apple germplasm collection at the Newe Ya’ar Research Center (elevation about 100 m, lat. 32°42’N, long. 35°11’E). The collection includes 33 accessions from different parts of the country, including the Judea Mountains, the Samaria Mountains, the Coastal Plain and Galilee. Although the number of old apple varieties in Israel is very small compared to other collections in the world, it is of high importance as it represents accessions that are adapted to regions with hot summer soil temperatures and mild winter conditions. The cultivar Anna, which is especially adapted to low chilling requirements and grown worldwide, originated from a cross between a local cultivar and a Western cultivar. A population originating from this cultivar was also used for the first QTL mapping of chilling requirements in apple. In view of the rising interest in varieties that are better adapted to global climate change, the Israeli collection is of high importance for future studies of adaptation to hot climate, tolerance to diseases and insects, and for breeding.

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Apple genetic resources in Israel
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Apple genetic resources in Israel

Although the origin of apple (Malus domestica) is not considered to be from the Mediterranean, its culture in Israel has been known for centuries. It was suggested that apple culture in the area began through the transfer of plants from the region of Armenia thousands of years ago. In an effort to preserve and explore the genetic and breeding potential of the Israeli varieties, a plot was allotted to an apple germplasm collection at the Newe Ya’ar Research Center (elevation about 100 m, lat. 32°42’N, long. 35°11’E). The collection includes 33 accessions from different parts of the country, including the Judea Mountains, the Samaria Mountains, the Coastal Plain and Galilee. Although the number of old apple varieties in Israel is very small compared to other collections in the world, it is of high importance as it represents accessions that are adapted to regions with hot summer soil temperatures and mild winter conditions. The cultivar Anna, which is especially adapted to low chilling requirements and grown worldwide, originated from a cross between a local cultivar and a Western cultivar. A population originating from this cultivar was also used for the first QTL mapping of chilling requirements in apple. In view of the rising interest in varieties that are better adapted to global climate change, the Israeli collection is of high importance for future studies of adaptation to hot climate, tolerance to diseases and insects, and for breeding.

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