Researchers at New Zealand's world renowned fruit science company HortResearch, announced today that they would complete the public release of the world's most extensive collection of apple DNA sequences.
The release comprises over 50,000 apple 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 fruit colour and taste.
By identifying and investigating only these active genes, researchers can avoid the high costs and long timeframes associated with full genome mapping projects.
A number of research teams from around the world have been working on identifying apple ESTs, and this will be the 2nd time New Zealand scientists have taken 'line honours' for being first to publish crucial information. The previous occasion was in 2004, when HortResearch and listed New Zealand biotech company Genesis Ltd released 100,000 apple ESTs.
Identified by HortResearch scientists over a 6 year period, the apple ESTs hold the secrets to discovering how gene function controls all aspects of fruit development, including taste, colour, vitamin content and even how fruit fight plant diseases.
Fruit breeders can then use this information to create new apple varieties, tailored to suit consumer tastes, health requirements, and the demand from industry for fruit less prone to disease.
Speaking at a gathering of the world's top fruit geneticists in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, HortResearch Chief Scientist Dr Ian Ferguson said the technology held the capacity to revolutionise the apple industry.
"By understanding fruit at a genetic level we are able to unlock the true potential of nature and present industry with product