Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Crack Complete Genome of Carrot

May 11, 2016

A team of scientists led by Phil Simon from the University of Wisconsin–Madison cracked the complete genetic code of carrot, which is published in Nature Genetics. The carrot genome has over 32,000 genes arranged among nine chromosomes, which code for pest and disease resistance, colorful carotenoids, and other traits.

"The carrot has a good reputation as a crop and we know it's a significant source of nutrition — vitamin A, in particular," Simon says. "Now, we have the chance to dig deeper and it's a nice addition to the toolbox for improving the crop."

The present-day orange carrot was once white in color and found in the wild. The first cultivated carrots were recorded 1,100 years ago in Central Asia, which were purple and yellow. The orange carrot appeared in 1500s in Europe. The research could not explain why the first cultivated carrots were purple and yellow, though it proves that it is not because of flavor because there was no link found between the genes that code for color and flavour. The research reveals that the overexpression of orange pigments is an accumulation that normally wouldn't happen in evolution. A gene (Y) was identified to be the cause of the difference between white carrots and yellow or orange ones, and that a variation of it leads to the accumulation of carotenoids.

Read the media release from University of Wisconsin–Madison.