Plants, People, Planet (Mar 2020)

The Long Ashton Legacy: Characterising United Kingdom West Country cider apples using a genotyping by targeted sequencing approach

  • Helen Harper,
  • Mark O. Winfield,
  • Liz Copas,
  • Sacha A. Przewieslik‐Allen,
  • Gary L. A. Barker,
  • Amanda Burridge,
  • Bob R. Hughes,
  • Les Davies,
  • Keith J. Edwards

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2, no. 2
pp. 167 – 175


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Societal Impact Statement The English West Country is the home of cider making, providing the region with jobs and industry, as well as cultural reference points such as Laurie Lee's Cider with Rosie. Many important cider apple varieties were developed at Long Ashton Research Station (LARS), near Bristol, UK, including 29 varieties known collectively as ‘The Girls’. After its closure, some of the knowledge and expertise acquired at Long Ashton was lost, including the pedigree of ‘The Girls’. We sampled LARS’ derived trees and, using a novel genotyping technique, rediscovered the pedigree of ‘The Girls’, ensuring that this important cider apple collection will be available for future generations. Summary Our research had two objectives: (a) record the influence of Long Ashton Research Station on the introduction of new cider apple cultivars to the UK; (b) rediscover the parentage of the cider apple cultivars known collectively as ‘The Girls’. For rapid, cost effective and accurate genotyping, we used the recently developed, medium density, single nucleotide polymorphism‐based genotyping procedure, SEQSNP®, to characterize the cultivars. We generated a medium density (1,500 markers), whole genome genotype for 245 apple cultivars that allowed us to determine the relationship between cultivars and, in so doing, rediscover the parentage of ‘The Girls’. We show that SNP genotyping is an efficient tool for the analysis of genetic diversity in cider apples and apples in general, and that the cider apple breeding programme carried out at Long Ashton Research Station made, and continues to make, a unique contribution to UK cider production.