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Genetic data promises new future for kiwi fruit
Date:7/31/2008

Auckland, New Zealand - Kiwifruit lovers can look forward to new, novel forms of their favourite fruit thanks to the release this week of crucial genetic data which fruit breeders say will help them naturally breed new varieties with increased health properties and exciting colours and flavours.

Researchers at New Zealand-based fruit science company HortResearch and listed New Zealand biotech company Genesis Research and Development Corporation Limited announced today that they would complete the public release of the world's most extensive collection of kiwifruit DNA sequences.

The release comprises over 130,000 kiwifruit gene sequences - referred to by scientists as expressed sequence tags (ESTs). These are DNA sequences from active genes in the plant; genes that govern such characteristics as flavour, colour, shape, vitamin content and aspects of fruit development such as ripening and storage life.

HortResearch and Genesis released a similar number of apple ESTs in March 2006. Those genes are now part of HortResearch's world-renowned apple and pear breeding programme.

A paper detailing the discovery and analysis of the Kiwifruit EST's was published today by UK-based peer-reviewed journal BMC Genomics (See link to paper as a feature at www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/9/351)

HortResearch scientist Dr William Laing says the kiwifruit ESTs were identified over an eight year period and will be used by the company's breeders to speed up development of new kiwifruit varieties through a technique known as Marker Assisted Selection (MAS).

In a MAS breeding programme, breeders use traditional crossing techniques to breed new varieties which are then assessed for their commercial potential by searching their DNA for markers that indicate the presence of genes linked to desirable fruit traits. ESTs are essential in helping scientists identify the gene
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Contact: Roger Bourne
rbourne@hortresearch.co.nz
64-212-268-044
Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Limited
Source:Eurekalert

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