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Full woodland strawberry genome sequenced
Date:12/27/2010

In a collaborative effort involving 74 researchers from 38 research institutes, scientists have produced the full genome of a wild strawberry plant. The research appeared today in Nature Genetics. Drs. Asaph Aharoni and Avital Adato of the Weizmann Institute's Plant Sciences Department were the sole Israeli scientists participating in the project, but they made a major contribution in mapping the genes and gene families responsible for the strawberry's flavor and aroma.

The woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca) is closely related to garden-variety cultivated strawberry. The fruit of this berry contains large amounts of anti-oxidants (mainly tannins, the substances that give wine their astringency), as well as vitamins A, C and B12 and minerals potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition, the strawberry fruit is uniquely rich in substances for flavor and aroma.

Participation in this project is something of a circle closer for Aharoni: For a number of years he has been investigating the metabolic pathways of ripening, in which the substance that give the fruit its flavor and aroma are produced. Aharoni was one of the first to use biological chips to analyze the genetic networks involved in creating these substances. He has also conducted a comparative analysis of these genes in wild and cultivated plants, looking for the differences. Now that the full genome of the wild strawberry plant is available for research, he is able not only to conduct deeper and broader investigations, but to shed new light on some of his past findings. Thus, for instance, in carrying out a computerized analysis of the woodland strawberry genome, Adato was able to place an enzyme that Aharoni had previously characterized in a relatively small enzyme family. This small family is responsible for the production of a large number of aromatic substances, and the finding helped clarify their means of production.

Aharoni hopes that, among other things, the
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Contact: Yivsam Azgad
news@weizmann.ac.il
972-893-43856
Weizmann Institute of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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