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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Apple Genome Sequenced

Andy Jack, Sky News Online

Apples have contributed to the 'tree of knowledge' by having their genetic code sequenced.

Golden Delicious

Genome unlocks the origins of the apple's wild ancestor

The first-draft blueprint of the domestic apple genome should help scientists develop hardier and tastier versions of the fruit crop.

International researchers analysed the DNA of the golden delicious apple, one of the most popular varieties.

"Having the apple genome sequence will greatly accelerate our ability to define the differences between apple cultivars at the genetic level," said Kate Evans, a US apple breeder at Washington State University.

"This will allow us to exploit these differences and target areas of diversity to incorporate into the breeding programme, resulting in improved cultivars for the consumer that are also better suited for long-term sustainable production."

The research is published in the journal Nature Genetics.

One key question answered by the scientists relates to the ancestry of apples.

The modern domestic apple's wild ancestor - Malus sieversii - did not grow in the Garden of Eden, but the mountains of southern Kazakhstan.