Genetic characterization and conservation of traditional varieties of quince (Cydonia oblonga Mill.) with valorization potential

Quince, Cydonia oblonga Mill., is one of the most important pome fruit species in the Rosaceae family and yet one of the most underutilized. It is cultivated for both fruit production and rootstocks for apple and pear scion cultivars. Its fruits, with high nutrient value and positive influence on human health, are used both for fresh consumption and for industry such as jam, jelly, marmalade or canning. Portugal is the ninth world producer (13955t), with an average productivity of 10t/ha and with a substantial expansion of the quince culture, particularly as an alternative to traditional cultures in some regions. Because of small production, the amount of fruit reaching the fresh fruit market can sell at more attractive prices thus attracting smallholder farmers. There are difficulties, however, in producing high quality fruit, that can be related to inadequacies in the production systems and/or a lack of options in the selection of varieties best suited to specific soil and climate conditions.

Even though quince tree is very adaptable and grows well in a wide range of conditions, the cultivar breeding by intraspecific crossing is very limited, and there are just a few quince germplasm resources in the world characterized phenotypically and by different molecular marker systems. It is necessary to enlarge the germplasm collections with segregating populations for economically important characters to start genetic studies that will allow the use of molecular tools in the future breeding programs in quince.

This project is being developed in the framework of the network for sustainable development of Agrifood sector in the Centro Region (CULTIVAR), with other ongoing projects on conservation and valorization of relevant endogenous genetic resources. With Centre for Functional Ecology – Science for People & the Planet (CFE, as host institution, and in collaboration with the Centro de Apoio Tecnológico Agroalimentar (CATAA,, the main objectives to be achieved are:

  1. Characterization and phenotypic evaluation (morphological, physiological and molecular) of quince trees previously georeferenced and in different production systems, through the survey of morphological and physiological, phenological and productivity descriptors and the analysis of genetic variability parameters using molecular markers.
  2. Optimize in vitro establishment and propagation protocols for the ex situ conservation of living germplasm with ensured phytosanitary quality.
  3. Obtain new varieties for future implementation in field trials and production systems.

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