Genes introduced into cultivated plants by backcross breeding programs are flanked by introgressed segments of DNA derived from the donor parent. This phenomenon is known as linkage drag and is frequently thought to affect traits other than the one originally targeted. The Tm-2 gene of Lycopersicon peruvianum, which confers resistance to tobacco mosaic virus, was introduced into several different tomato cultivars (L. esculentum) by repeated backcrossing. We have measured the sizes of the introgressed segments flanking the Tm-2 locus in several of these cultivars using a high density map of restriction fragment length polymorphic (RFLP) markers. The smallest introgressed segment is estimated to be 4 cM in length, while the longest is over 51 cM in length and contains the entire short arm of chromosome 9. Additionally, RFLP analysis was performed on remnant seed from different intermediate generations corresponding to two different backcross breeding programs for TMV resistance. The results reveal that plants containing desirable recombination near the resistance gene were rarely selected during backcrossing and, as a result, the backcross breeding method was largely ineffective in reducing the size of linked DNA around the resistance gene. We propose that, by monitoring recombination around genes of interest with linked RFLP markers, one can quickly and efficiently reduce the amount of linkage drag associated with introgression. Using such a procedure, it is estimated that an introgressed segment can be obtained in two generations that is as small as that which would otherwise require 100 backcross generations without RFLP selection.
- Linkage drag
- Restriction fragment length polymorphisms
- Tobacco mosaic virus