Scientists crack genetic code for apple

Last Updated: Monday, August 30, 2010 - 23:30

London: Scientists have cracked the genetic code for Golden Delicious, a variety of apple, that paves the way to crunchier, juicier, healthier fruits.

The breakthrough is already being used to breed red-hued apples with more anti-oxidants, known for a host of health benefits.

Researcher Roger Hellens of New Zealand firm Plant & Food Research said: "We will be able to identify the genes which control the characteristics that our sensory scientists have identified as most desired by consumers - crispiness, juiciness and flavour."

More than 60 million tonnes of apples are grown worldwide each year, the equivalent of nine kilos per person, reports the Daily Mail.

Although apple farmers try to breed only the best plants, they are able to know the outcome only eight years later, thanks to the slow growth of apple tree.

Now breeders will be able to screen seedlings for key genes, vastly speeding up the process. Traits that hamper production can also be more easily bred out, reports the journal Nature Genetics.
A sweeter version is under development and could be on sale by 2015. Other plans include boosting the amounts of an appetite-suppressing compound already present in apples.

The decoding of the apple`s DNA by a team of almost 100 scientists from five different countries has also shed new light on its roots.
The finding indicates a plant that evolved into the apple tree was born around 65 million years ago, when a comet is believed to have exterminated the dinosaurs.

The extra genes sent the apple along a different evolutionary path from peaches, raspberries, strawberries and other related fruits.


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First Published: Monday, August 30, 2010 - 23:30

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