Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Association genetics in Solanum tuberosum provides new insights into potato tuber bruising and enzymatic tissue discoloration

Claude Urbany1*, Benjamin Stich1, Lysann Schmidt1, Ludwig Simon2, Hergen Berding3, Holger Junghans4, Karl-Heinz Niehoff5, Alexander Braun6, Eckhard Tacke7, Hans-Rheinhardt Hofferbert8, Jens Lübeck9, Josef Strahwald9 and Christiane Gebhardt1

Author Affiliations

1 Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, 50829 Cologne; Germany

2 Bavaria Saat BGB GmbH, 86529 Schrobenhausen; Germany

3 Saatzucht Berding, 26345 Bockhorn-Petersgroden; Germany

4 NORIKA, 18190 Groß Lüsewitz; Germany

5 Dr. K.-H. Niehoff, Gut Bütow, 17209 Bütow; Germany

6 Böhm-Nordkartoffel Agrarproduktion OHG, 84085 Langquaid; Germany

7 BIOPLANT GmbH, 29547 Ebstorf; Germany

8 Böhm-Nordkartoffel Agrarproduktion GbR, 29574 Ebstorf; Germany

9 Saka-Pflanzenzucht G.b.R., 24340 Windeby; Germany

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:7  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-7

Published: 5 January 2011



Most agronomic plant traits result from complex molecular networks involving multiple genes and from environmental factors. One such trait is the enzymatic discoloration of fruit and tuber tissues initiated by mechanical impact (bruising). Tuber susceptibility to bruising is a complex trait of the cultivated potato (Solanum tuberosum) that is crucial for crop quality. As phenotypic evaluation of bruising is cumbersome, the application of diagnostic molecular markers would empower the selection of low bruising potato varieties. The genetic factors and molecular networks underlying enzymatic tissue discoloration are sparsely known. Hitherto there is no association study dealing with tuber bruising and diagnostic markers for enzymatic discoloration are rare.


The natural genetic diversity for bruising susceptibility was evaluated in elite middle European potato germplasm in order to elucidate its molecular basis. Association genetics using a candidate gene approach identified allelic variants in genes that function in tuber bruising and enzymatic browning. Two hundred and five tetraploid potato varieties and breeding clones related by descent were evaluated for two years in six environments for tuber bruising susceptibility, specific gravity, yield, shape and plant maturity. Correlations were found between different traits. In total 362 polymorphic DNA fragments, derived from 33 candidate genes and 29 SSR loci, were scored in the population and tested for association with the traits using a mixed model approach, which takes into account population structure and kinship. Twenty one highly significant (p < 0.001) and robust marker-trait associations were identified.


The observed trait correlations and associated marker fragments provide new insight in the molecular basis of bruising susceptibility and its natural variation. The markers diagnostic for increased or decreased bruising susceptibility will facilitate the combination of superior alleles in breeding programs. In addition, this study presents novel candidates that might control enzymatic tissue discoloration and tuber bruising. Their validation and characterization will increase the knowledge about the underlying biological processes.