PULLMAN, Wash. An international team of scientists from Italy, France, New Zealand, Belgium and the USA have published a draft sequence of the domestic apple genome in the current issue of Nature Genetics.
The availability of a genome sequence for apple will allow scientists to more rapidly identify which genes provide desirable characteristics to the fruit and which genes and gene variants provide disease or drought resistance to the plant. This information can be used to rapidly improve the plants through more informed selective breeding.
An organism's genome is the total of all its genetic information, including genes. Genes carry information that determines, among other things, a plant's appearance, health, productivity and color and taste of the fruit.
The domestic apple is the main fruit crop of the world's temperate regions. Apple is a member of the plant family Rosaceae which includes many other economically important species, including cherry, pear, peach, apricot, strawberry, and rose, to name just a few.
The state of Washington accounts for approximately 60 percent of total apple production in the U.S. and Rosaceae fruit production is a multi-billion dollar industry in the state. Washington state scientists played an important role in the project.
Led by Washington State University horticultural genomicist Amit Dhingra, the Washington-based team sequenced and analyzed a unique version of the genome of the golden delicious apple in which all duplicated chromosomes are genetically identical. This information was used to validate the sequence of the more complicated "heterozygous" golden delicious apple (in which duplicated chromosomes are not identical).
"Before genome sequencing, the best we could do was correlate traits with genes. Now we can point to a specific gene and say, 'This is the one; this gene is responsible for this trait'. That trait of interest might be, for instance, a disease, whi
|Contact: Brian Clark|
Washington State University