Apple code cracked

A team of 86 global scientists have
sequenced the genetic code of the Golden Delicious apple for the first time.

The DNA breakthrough could result
in new and improved apple varieties which are more resistant to disease.

Scientists from 20 institutions
took two years to unravel the code – the largest plant genome uncovered to

The findings are published in the
leading journal Nature Genetics.

Professor Riccardo Velasco at the
Edmund Mach Foundation in Italy, who led the research team, said that
sequencing the genome “would have huge implications for applied

“This breakthrough will help
us to develop high quality traits and bring new things to the apple
market,” he said.

Kate Evans from Washington State
University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Centre said the discovery would
help the “long-term sustainable production” of apples.

Scientists hope improvements to the
popular Golden Delicious variety – which originated in West Virginia, US, more
than a century ago – could enhance the taste, look, and crunchiness of the

The researchers were also able to
trace the apple’s ancestry, and found the domestic fruit’s wild ancestor Malus
sieversii originally grew in the mountains of southern Kazakhstan. There are
more than 7,500 varieties of apple known today.

The researchers also discovered
that the huge size of the apple genome originated when it got accidentally
duplicated far back in its evolutionary history.

A large number of genes can give
plants a competitive advantage, providing more in-built defences against

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