Breeding apples is a long-term endeavour and it is imperative that new cultivars are selected to have outstanding consumer appeal. This study has taken the approach of merging sensory science with genome wide association analyses in order to map the human perception of apple flavour and texture onto the apple genome. The goal was to identify genomic associations that could be used in breeding apples for improved fruit quality. A collection of 85 apple cultivars was examined over two years through descriptive sensory evaluation by a trained sensory panel. The trained sensory panel scored randomized sliced samples of each apple cultivar for seventeen taste, flavour and texture attributes using controlled sensory evaluation practices. In addition, the apple collection was subjected to genotyping by sequencing for marker discovery. A genome wide association analysis suggested significant genomic associations for several sensory traits including juiciness, crispness, mealiness and fresh green apple flavour. The findings include previously unreported genomic regions that could be used in apple breeding and suggest that similar sensory association mapping methods could be applied in other plants.
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