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DNA code enhances knowledge of apple

Apples have contributed to the "tree of knowledge" by having their genetic code sequenced.

It is hoped the first-draft blueprint of the domestic apple genome will help the development of hardier and tastier versions of the fruit. Researchers analysed the DNA of the golden delicious apple, one of the most popular varieties.

"Having the apple genome sequence will greatly accelerate our ability to define the differences between apple cultivars at the genetic level," said Kate Evans, an American apple breeder based at Washington State University's Tree Fruit Research and Extension Centre. "This will allow us to exploit these differences and target areas of diversity to incorporate into the breeding programme, resulting in improved cultivars for the consumer that are also better suited for long-term sustainable production."

The scientists also concluded that the modern domestic apple's wild ancestor – Malus sieversii – did not grow in the Garden of Eden, but the mountains of southern Kazakhstan. The research is published today in Nature Genetics.