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What makes apples healthy and delicious?
When Eva bit the apple, she may have screwed up human access to paradise, but instinctively she picked up one of the healthiest foods. A lot has changed since then, including the apple. Until a few years ago, breeding progress had to be achieved more or less by blind breeding, today genome research plays an important role in creating more transparency for breeding decisions. Not only characteristics such as shape, color and taste are coded in certain locations of the apple's own genes, but also the content of health-promoting ingredients.
For many years, scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have been breeding new, better varieties. The popular variety »Elstar«, for example, comes from this research center. In collaboration with an international consortium, the scientists have now succeeded in deciphering the apple genome even more precisely and comprehensively using a specific apple variety. Since you now know up to 93 percent of the construction plans, this contributes significantly to a better overview and transparency for the further breeding of varieties. Parts of the genome that have not yet been characterized were decoded, which could help in the future to change certain characteristics of the apple.
Depending on how the breeding goal is defined, the vitamin content or other nutritional or health-related properties could be influenced favorably. This way, completely new varieties can be created or existing varieties can be optimized. For example, the plant breeders had previously been able to develop the "Santana" variety, which is also well tolerated by people with moderate apple allergies.
Such or similar goals could now be achieved even more easily in the future. Funded i.a. published by the European Commission, this high-quality genome decryption can help make future apple production more sustainable - also from an economic perspective.
Friederike Heidenhof, resp