Found - the apple gene for red

Nov 30, 2006
Found - the apple gene for red

CSIRO researchers have located the gene that controls the colour of apples – a discovery that may lead to bright new apple varieties.

“The red colour in apple skin is the result of anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds responsible for blue and red colours in many flowers and fruits,” says the leader of the CSIRO Plant Industry research team, Dr Mandy Walker.

“Colour is a very important part of fruit marketing,” she says. “If fruit doesn’t look good, consumers are far less likely to buy it, no matter how good it might taste.

“As well as giving apples their rosy red hue, anthocyanins are also antioxidants with healthy attributes, giving us plenty of reasons to study how the biochemical pathway leading to apple colour is regulated.”

A Post Doctoral Fellow with the team, Dr Adam Takos, used the latest molecular technology to measure how much particular genes were activated, or expressed, in apple skin as the fruit ripened and coloured.

“Apple growers have always known that apple colour is dependant on light – apples grown in darkness or even heavy shade don’t turn red when they ripen,” Dr Walker says. “That made it very likely that the gene we were looking for requires light to be activated.”

“By identifying master genes that were activated by light, Adam was able to pinpoint the gene that controls the formation of anthocyanins in apples, and we found that in green apples this gene is not expressed as much as in red apples.”

In collaboration with apple breeders at the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia (DAFWA), the scientists were able to show that fruit colour can be predicted even in seedling apple plants by measuring the form of this gene that is present.

The new knowledge about how apple colour is regulated will give plant breeders the opportunity to use these molecular marker tests to speed up apple breeding and select for improved fruit colour. Dr Walker believes that this research could open the way to breeding new apple varieties.

“With a better understanding of how apple colour is controlled we can begin to breed apples with new and interesting colour variations,” she says. “We may even be able to breed apples that are better for you, though they already play an important role in a healthy diet!”

For more information on this research visit the The gene for red information sheet.

Source: CSIRO

Explore further: Edible flowers may inhibit chronic diseases

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Simple, like a neutron star

Mar 25, 2014

For astrophysicists neutron stars are extremely complex astronomical objects. Research conducted with the collaboration of SISSA and published in the journal Physical Review Letters demonstrates that in cer ...

Move over '123456': passwords to go high-tech

Mar 13, 2014

Internet users may soon have a secure solution to the modern plague of passwords, in which they can use visual patterns or even their own body parts to identify themselves.

Poor design means terrible websites still haunt the web

Jan 21, 2014

There is probably not one of us reading this who has not lost themselves in time and space as they surf the web. So much engaging content, so many interesting lines of enquiry – and so much rubbish too.

Recommended for you

Edible flowers may inhibit chronic diseases

10 minutes ago

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found that common edible flowers in China are rich in phenolics and have excellent antioxidant capacity.

User comments : 0

More news stories